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From Middle English puttock, puttok, potok, puttoc, of uncertain origin; perhaps representing an unattested Old English *putta (hawk) +‎ -ock; or perhaps from Old English *pūthafoc (literally pout-hawk), equivalent to pout (a kind of fish) +‎ hawk. Compare also pout (a young bird), poult.


puttock (plural puttocks)

  1. (now Britain regional) Any of several birds of prey including the red kite, buzzard or marsh harrier
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938, book II, canto XI:
      Some like to hounds, some like to Apes, dismayd, / Some like to Puttockes, all in plumes arayd: / All shap't according their conditions []
    • 1873, Appletons' Journal - Issues 224-249, page 724:
      Who finds the partridge In the puttock's nest, But will suspect 'twas he that did the deed? " But then Shakespeare knew the habits of partridges and puttocks as well as Milton knew his Bible or his Tacitus.
  2. (by extension) A rapacious person who preys on the defenseless.
    • 2014, Susan Doran & ‎Norman Jones, The Elizabethan World, ↑ISBN, page 440:
      Besides that, as though this pillage and pollage were not rapacious enough, they take in and enclose commons, moors, heaths and other common pastures where out the poor commonalty were want to have all their provisions and feeding for their cattle and (which is more) corn for themselves to live upon; all which are now in most places taken from them by those greedy puttocks to the great impoverishing and utter beggaring of many whole towns
  3. (nautical) The futtock.

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