- any of several tawny brown herons that inhabit reedy marshes, as Botaurus lentiginosus (American bittern), of North America, and B. stellaris, of Europe.
- any of several small herons of the genus Ixobrychus, as I. exilis (least bittern), of temperate and tropical North and South America.
Origin of bittern1
- a bitter solution remaining in salt making after the salt has crystallized out of seawater or brine, used as a source of bromides, iodides, and certain other salts.
Origin of bittern2
Examples from the Web for bittern
Later in the spring, she and Elisabeth saw another kind of heron, an American bittern, skulking in some grass by a swamp.One Year to Live
April 12, 2009
Personally I do not know a bittern from an olive-backed thrush.Four Americans
Henry A. Beers
I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water.Pilgrimage from the Alps to the Tiber
James Aitken Wylie
I will alto make it a possession for the bittern, and pools for water.
The very cry of the Bittern adds to this atmosphere of desolation.
It is conspicuously slenderer and shorter than in the Bittern.Extinct Birds
- any wading bird of the genera Ixobrychus and Botaurus, related and similar to the herons but with shorter legs and neck, a stouter body, and a booming call: family Ardeidae, order Ciconiiformes
- the bitter liquid remaining after common salt has been crystallized out of sea water: a source of magnesium, bromine, and iodine compounds
Word Origin and History for bittern
heron-like bird, 13c., botor, from Old French butor "bittern," perhaps from Gallo-Romance *butitaurus, from Latin butionem "bittern" + taurus "bull" (see steer (n.)); according to Pliny, so called because of its booming voice, but this seems fanciful. Modern form from 1510s.