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  1. any of several large oscine birds of the genus Corvus, of the family Corvidae, having a long, stout bill, lustrous black plumage, and a wedge-shaped tail, as the common C. brachyrhynchos, of North America.
  2. any of several other birds of the family Corvidae.
  3. any of various similar birds of other families.
  4. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Corvus.
  5. crowbar(def 1).
  1. as the crow flies, in a straight line; by the most direct route: The next town is thirty miles from here, as the crow flies.
  2. eat crow, Informal. to be forced to admit to having made a mistake, as by retracting an emphatic statement; suffer humiliation: His prediction was completely wrong, and he had to eat crow.
  3. have a crow to pick/pluck with someone, Midland and Southern U.S. to have a reason to disagree or argue with someone.

Origin of crow1

before 900; Middle English crowe, Old English crāwe, crāwa; cognate with Old High German krāwa; akin to Dutch kraai, German Krähe
Can be confusedcraw crow
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for as the crow flies


  1. plural Crows or Crow a member of a Native American people living in E Montana
  2. the language of this people, belonging to the Siouan family


  1. any large gregarious songbird of the genus Corvus, esp C. corone (the carrion crow) of Europe and Asia: family Corvidae . Other species are the raven, rook, and jackdaw and all have a heavy bill, glossy black plumage, and rounded wingsSee also carrion crow Related adjective: corvine
  2. any of various other corvine birds, such as the jay, magpie, and nutcracker
  3. any of various similar birds of other families
  4. offensive an old or ugly woman
  5. short for crowbar
  6. as the crow flies as directly as possible
  7. eat crow US and Canadian informal to be forced to do something humiliating
  8. stone the crows stone

Word Origin

Old English crāwa; related to Old Norse krāka, Old High German krāia, Dutch kraai


verb (intr)
  1. (past tense crowed or crew) to utter a shrill squawking sound, as a cock
  2. (often foll by over) to boast one's superiority
  3. (esp of babies) to utter cries of pleasure
  1. the act or an instance of crowing
Derived Formscrower, nouncrowingly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English crāwan; related to Old High German krāen, Dutch kraaien
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for as the crow flies


Indian tribe of the American Midwest, the name is a rough translation of their own name, Apsaruke.



Old English crawe, imitative of bird's cry. Phrase eat crow is perhaps based on the notion that the bird is edible when boiled but hardly agreeable; first attested 1851, American English, but said to date to War of 1812 (Walter Etecroue turns up 1361 in the Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London). Crow's foot "wrinkle around the corner of the eye" is late 14c. Phrase as the crow flies first recorded 1800.



Old English crawian "make a loud noise like a crow" (see crow (n.)); sense of "exult in triumph" is 1520s, perhaps in part because the English crow is a carrion-eater. Related: Crowed; crowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

as the crow flies in Culture

as the crow flies

The most direct route between two places: “From here to Gold Bar, it's only ten miles as the crow flies, but twenty miles by the winding mountain road.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with as the crow flies

as the crow flies

In a straight line, by the shortest route, as in It's only a mile as the crow flies, but about three miles by this mountain road. This idiom is based on the fact that crows, very intelligent birds, fly straight to the nearest food supply. [Late 1700s]

In addition to the idiom beginning with crow

, also see


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.