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Alternative forms[edit]


From shuttle (from the back-and-forth sense of the word originating with loom weaving) + cock (from resemblance to a male bird's plume of tail feathers).


A shuttlecock.


shuttlecock (countable and uncountable, plural shuttlecocks) (badminton)

  1. (countable) A lightweight object that is conical in shape with a cork or rubber-covered nose, used in badminton the way a ball is used in other racquet games. [from early 16th c.]
    Synonym: birdie
    • 1797, George Staunton, “Cochin-china”, in An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China; [] In Two Volumes, [], volume I, London: [] G[eorge] Nicol, [], →OCLC, page 339:
      Seven or eight of them, standing in a circle, were engaged in a game of shittlecock. They had in their hands no battledores. They did not employ the hand or arm, any way, in striking it. But, after taking a short race, and springing from the floor, they met the descending shittlecock with the sole of the foot, and drove it up again, with force, high into the air. [...] The shittlecock was made of a piece of dried skin rolled round, and bound with strings. Into this skin were inserted three long feathers spreading out at top, but so near to each other, where they were stuck into the skin, as to pass through the holes, little more than a quarter of an inch square, which are always made in the centre of Cochin-chinese copper coins.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, “The Musket”, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC, page 566:
      In a severe gale like this, while the ship is but a tossed shuttlecock to the blast, it is by no means uncommon to see the needles in the compasses, at intervals, go round and round.
    • 1859, Ebenezer Landells, The Boy’s Own Toy-maker, page 122:
      The practice of the game in this country is to keep the shuttlecock in the air by striking it from one person to another.
    • 1897 October 16, Henry James, chapter II, in What Maisie Knew, Chicago, Ill., New York, N.Y.: Herbert S. Stone & Co., →OCLC, page 16:
      Crudely as they had calculated they were at first justified by the event; she was the little feathered shuttlecock they fiercely kept flying between them.
  2. (uncountable, dated) The game of badminton.
    • c. 1604–1626, doubtfully attributed to Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, “The Faithful Friends”, in Henry [William] Weber, editor, The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher, in Fourteen Volumes: [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] F[rancis] C[harles] and J[ohn] Rivington;  [], published 1812, →OCLC, Act II, scene ii, page 50:
      Fla[via]. Come, Sir Pergamus, till your horse come, you and I'll go play at shuttle-cock. / Per[gamus]. A match i'faith. I love that sport a' life. Yet my mother charged me not to use it for fear of putting my arm out of joint.
    • 1830, Mrs. Marcet (Jane Haldimand), Bertha's visit to her uncle in England (volume 3, page 105)
      Two people stand at opposite ends of the room, as in playing shuttlecock []

Related terms[edit]



shuttlecock (third-person singular simple present shuttlecocks, present participle shuttlecocking, simple past and past participle shuttlecocked)

  1. To move rapidly back and forth.
  2. To send or toss back and forth; to bandy.
    to shuttlecock words