Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English popinjay, popyngeay, popingay, popejay, from Anglo-Norman papegai, papejoie et al., (northern) Old French papejai (parrot), probably from Old Occitan papagay (compare Occitan papagai, Catalan papagai), ultimately from Arabic بَبْغَاء(babḡāʾ, parrot), of imitative origin.



popinjay (plural popinjays)

  1. (now archaic outside heraldry) A parrot. [from 14th c.; in heraldry from 15th c.]
  2. (obsolete) A decorative image of a parrot on a tapestry, cloth etc. [14th-16th c.]
  3. (dated) A vain, gaudy person; someone who is shallow or superficial. [from 16th c.]
    • 1881, Alfred Ayres [pseudonym; Thomas Embly Osmun], “Nicely”, in The Verbalist[1]:
      The very quintessence of popinjay vulgarity is reached when nicely is made to do service for well, in this wise: "How do you do?" "Nicely." "How are you?" "Nicely."
  4. (archery) A target to shoot at, typically stuffed with feathers or plumage. [from 16th c.]
  5. (UK) The green woodpecker, Picus viridis. [from 19th c.]