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rook +‎ -ery, 1725.[1]


rookery (plural rookeries)

  1. A colony of breeding birds or other animals.
    • 1914 February 2, “Corvine conversation in Cheshire rookery”, in The Guardian[1]:
      In winter rooks roost together in large numbers, and the roost may or may not be a rookery, but almost daily the local residents pay visits to the nesting trees, and about this time often begin playing at nest-building.
    • 2017 April 18, Mark Cocker, “Something is amiss with the Yare valley rooks”, in The Guardian[2]:
      There are six rookeries either side of Haddiscoe Island, which average 283 nests each.
  2. (by extension) A crowded tenement.
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World [], London, New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, →OCLC:
      Lord John Roxton and I turned down Vigo Street together and through the dingy portals of the famous aristocratic rookery.
    • 1934 April 2, “Business: Tenements”, in Time[3], archived from the original on 2012-03-05:
      Spying flames vomiting from a Manhattan tenement one night last week, a scavenging junkman named Roderick Good turned in an alarm. In their beds in the five-story rookery lay more than 100 tenants.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 50, quoting Christian Wolmar:
      The squares near Ladbroke Grove station ... never managed to attract the kind of people for which they were designed and sank rapidly into multiple occupation, becoming almost as bad as the nearby rookeries of north-west Kensington.
  3. (Britain, historical, by extension) A place where criminals congregate, often an area of a town or city.
    Synonym: slum
    • 1980, Jerry White, Rothschild Buildings: life in an East End tenement block, 1887-1920, page 128:
      The Flower and Dean St rookery had been home to many of those who lived at least partly by street crime.
    • 1995, Cyrille Fijnaut, Changes in Society, Crime and Criminal Justice in Europe:
      These rookeries sustained criminal social systems that provided schooling in crime for the young and newcomers.
    • 1998, Stephen Inwood with Roy Porter, A History of London, page 522:
      In the Victorian imagination, crime and the criminal class were always associated with rookeries, the dense slum areas in which criminals were said to live.
  4. (military, slang, obsolete) That part of the barracks occupied by subalterns.



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “rookery”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • John Camden Hotten (1873) The Slang Dictionary

Further reading[edit]



rookery f (plural rookerys)

  1. rookery

Further reading[edit]