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From Middle English foul, foghel, from Old English fugol, from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, dissimilated variant of *fluglaz (compare Old English flugol ‘fleeing’, Mercian fluglas heofun ‘fowls of the air’),[1] from *fleuganą ‘to fly’. Compare West Frisian fûgel, Low German Vagel, Dutch vogel, German Vogel, Swedish fågel, Danish fugl. More at fly.



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fowl ‎(plural fowl or fowls)

  1. (archaic) A bird.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XIII, chapter xix:
      And now I take vpon me the aduentures of holy thynges / & now I see and vnderstande that myn old synne hyndereth me and shameth me / so that I had no power to stere nor speke whan the holy blood appiered afore me / So thus he sorowed til hit was day / & herd the fowles synge / thenne somwhat he was comforted
  2. A bird of the order Galliformes, including chickens, turkeys, pheasant, partridges and quail.
  3. Birds which are hunted or kept for food, including Galliformes and also waterfowl of the order Anseriformes such as ducks, geese and swans.


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fowl ‎(third-person singular simple present fowls, present participle fowling, simple past and past participle fowled)

  1. To hunt fowl.
    We took our guns and went fowling.



  1. ^ C.T. Onions, ed., Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, s.v. "fowl" (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996), 374.

Middle English[edit]


From Old English fugol, from Proto-Germanic.


fowl (plural fowles)

  1. a bird
And smale fowles maken melodye
That slepen all the night with open ye - Chaucer, General Prologue, Canterbury Tales, ll.9-10