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[kes-truh l] /ˈkɛs trəl/
a common small falcon, Falco tinnunculus, of northern parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, notable for hovering in the air with its head to the wind.
any of several related small falcons, as the American kestrel, F. sparverius.
Origin of kestrel
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English castrell < Middle French quercerelle, metathetic variant of crecerelle, of disputed orig. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for kestrel
Historical Examples
  • Ralph laughed, and they sauntered off together, and the kestrel sailed back to her despoiled nest.

  • He had no home of his own, for his parents were dead; and this was not his first visit to kestrel.

    Saint's Progress John Galsworthy
  • Mr. Morris mentions as a unique fact that a kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) bred in an aviary.

  • Do you mean that I shall be appointed to the command of the kestrel?

    In the King's Name George Manville Fenn
  • Of the migratory birds of prey the kestrel is perhaps the first to arrive; the osprey and the peregrine falcon are among the last.

  • Then it falls, hangs for a moment in the air like a kestrel, and returns to its perch.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • The members of the party were astonished to see the kestrel rise carrying a bird, possibly a Sparrow, in its talons.

    An Australian Bird Book John Albert Leach
  • And yet at certain seasons the kestrel is as destructive in the covert as its congeners.

    Poachers and Poaching John Watson
  • But this is not the case with another of the brutal gamekeepers victims, that exquisite little falcon, the kestrel.

    Birds of the wave and woodland Phil (Philip Stewart) Robinson
  • This is mainly white and so cannot be confounded with the kestrel.

    Glimpses of Indian Birds Douglas Dewar
British Dictionary definitions for kestrel


any of several small falcons, esp the European Falco tinnunculus, that tend to hover against the wind and feed on small mammals on the ground
Word Origin
C15: changed from Old French cresserele, from cressele rattle, from Vulgar Latin crepicella (unattested), from Latin crepitāre to crackle, from crepāre to rustle
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
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Word Origin and History for kestrel

kind of falcon, c.1600, earlier castrell (15c.), probably from Middle French cresserelle, which apparently is related to crecerelle "rattle," from Latin crepitacillium "small rattle," diminutive of crepitaculum "noisy bell, rattle," from crepitare "to crackle, rattle;" possibly from the old belief that their noise frightened away other hawks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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