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See also: Magpie



From Mag, a nickname for Margaret that was used to denote a chatterer, + archaic pie (magpie), from Old French pie, from Latin pīca, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)peyk- (woodpecker, magpie).


  • IPA(key): /ˈmæɡˌpaɪ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: mag‧pie


magpie (plural magpies)

  1. One of several kinds of bird in the family Corvidae, especially Pica pica.
    Synonyms: maggie, Eurasian magpie, European magpie, common magpie, pica, (obsolete) pie, (regional) piet
  2. A superficially similar Australian bird, Gymnorhina tibicen or Cracticus tibicen.
  3. (figurative) Someone who displays a magpie-like quality such as hoarding or stealing objects.
    • 2005 April 15, Michiko Kakutani, “The Plot Thins, or Are No Stories New?”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      Not only is Mr. Booker a voracious magpie (who does not always acknowledge the sources of his ideas), but he also turns out to be an annoyingly biased and didactic one.
  4. (slang) A fan or member of Newcastle United F.C.
  5. (military, firearms) The third circle on a target, between the inner and outer.
  6. (UK, slang, obsolete) A halfpenny.

Derived terms[edit]



magpie (third-person singular simple present magpies, present participle magpieing, simple past and past participle magpied)

  1. (transitive) To mark with patches of black and white or light and dark.
    Synonym: mottle
    • 1914, Oliver Onions, Mushroom Town[2], New York: George H. Doran, Part 4, Chapter 3, pp. 292-293:
      The little rail-enclosed plots that lay between the pavements and the hotels were magpied with torn paper []
    • 1952, Michael McLaverty, chapter 15, in Truth in the Night[3], Dublin: Poolbeg, published 1986, page 179:
      [] she stood at the window and saw the lake blue with spring and a few patches of snow that magpied the hills.
    • 1963, Alan Garner, chapter 8, in The Moon of Gomrath[4], New York: Collins, published 1979, page 64:
      [] they looked down upon Highmost Redmanhey, timber and plaster magpied by the moon, and a lamp in the window of the room where Susan lay.
    • 1979, Jack S. Scott, chapter 6, in A Clutch of Vipers,[5], New York: Harper & Row, page 76:
      [] young Inspector Cruse arrived at the Dun Cow, entering through a door tricked out as Tudor and set into a façade magpied with white paint and nailed-on beams []
  2. (transitive, intransitive) To steal or hoard (items) as magpies are believed to do.
    • 1924, Ford Madox Ford, Some Do Not ...[6], Part 2, Chapter 1:
      [] she liked to be able to have a picturesque fact or two with which to support herself when she too, to hold attention, wanted to issue moving statements as to revolutions, anarchies and strife in the offing. And she had noticed that when she magpied Tietjens’ conversations more serious men in responsible positions were apt to argue with her and to pay her more attention than before....
    • 1999, Peter Straub, chapter 131, in Mr. X[7], New York: Random House, page 469:
      “I had to borrow those photographs Aunt Nettie was storing in her closet.”
      “Isn’t that interesting?” May said. “I have to say, I never did understand why Mrs. Hatch asked me to magpie them out of the library.”
    • 2012, Alice Hart, Friends at My Table[8], London: Quadrille, page 175:
      I have magpied from here and there, borrowing influences from Morocco, Greece, Italy and my notebooks to end up with a handful of easy little dishes that complement each other.
  3. (intransitive) To talk idly; to talk about other people's private business.
    Synonyms: chatter, gossip
    • 1978, Jean Rikhoff, Where Were You in ’76?[9], New York: Richard Marek Publishers, Book 1, Chapter 2, p. 28:
      He knew how people were magpieing with their malicious chatter that she had committed the cardinal sin of believing love was permanent []

Further reading[edit]