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See also: Crow


A bird; a crow: American crow


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English crowe, from Old English crāwe, from Proto-Germanic *krāwō (compare West Frisian krie, Dutch kraai, German Krähe), from *krāhaną ‘to crow’. See below.


crow (plural crows)

  1. A bird, usually black, of the genus Corvus, having a strong conical beak, with projecting bristles; it has a harsh, croaking call.
    • 1922, E.R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroborus:
      Gaslark in his splendour on the golden stairs saying adieu to those three captains and their matchless armament foredoomed to dogs and crows on Salapanta Hills.
  2. The cry of the rooster.
    Synonym: cock-a-doodle-doo
  3. Any of various dark-coloured nymphalid butterflies of the genus Euploea.
  4. A bar of iron with a beak, crook, or claw; a bar of iron used as a lever; a crowbar.
    • 1796, Matthew Lewis, The Monk, Folio Society, published 1985, page 267:
      He approached the humble tomb in which Antonia reposed. He had provided himself with an iron crow and a pick-axe: but this precaution was unnecessary.
    Synonym: crowbar
  5. (historical) A gangplank (corvus) used by the Ancient Roman navy to board enemy ships.
  6. (among butchers) The mesentery of an animal.
  7. (ethnic slur, offensive, slang) A black person.
  8. (military, slang) The emblem of an eagle, a sign of military rank.
    • 2002, Ed Goodrich, Riggers that Dive (page 46)
      A young petty officer that must have just received his “crow” (a single chevron, with an eagle over it) was showing off to several seamen.
    • 2003, Jonathan T. Malay, Seraphim Sky (page 106)
      The young man had been threatened with loss of his third class rank, his “crow,” the eagle in a petty officer's sleeve insignia.
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Further reading[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Middle English crowen, from Old English crāwan (past tense crēow, past participle crāwen), from Proto-Germanic *krēaną, from imitative Proto-Indo-European *gerH- (to cry hoarsely).[1]

Compare Dutch kraaien, German krähen, Lithuanian gróti, Russian гра́ять (grájatʹ)). Related to croak.


crow (third-person singular simple present crows, present participle crowing, simple past crowed or (UK) crew, past participle crowed or (archaic) crown)

  1. (intransitive) To make the shrill sound characteristic of a rooster; to make a sound in this manner, either in gaiety, joy, pleasure, or defiance.
  2. (intransitive) To shout in exultation or defiance; to brag.
    He’s been crowing all day about winning the game of cards.
    • 2017 September 27, Julianne Tveten, “Zucktown, USA”, in The Baffler[1]:
      Touting its sponsorship of local engineering and sustainability programs, Amazon crows about such “investments” as its dog park, playing fields, art installations, and Buckyball-reminiscent domical gardens.
  3. (intransitive, music) To test the reed of a double reed instrument by placing the reed alone in the mouth and blowing it.
Usage notes[edit]

The past tense crew in modern usage is confined to literary and metaphorical uses, usually with reference to the story of Peter in Luke 22.60. The past participle crown is similarly poetical.



Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of crowe