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[awr-tl-uh n] /ˈɔr tl ən/
an Old World bunting, Emberiza hortulana, esteemed as a table delicacy.
the bobolink.
Origin of ortolan
1520-30; < French < Provençal: literally, gardener (i.e., frequenting gardens) < Latin hortulānus, equivalent to hortul(us) little garden (hort(us) garden + -ulus -ule) + -ānus -an Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ortolan
Historical Examples
  • In the house they must be treated in the same manner as the ortolan.

  • The ortolan is not famed for its song, which is, however, soft and sweet.

  • There is, however, some consolation for the rarity of the ortolan in England.

  • The reed-bird—in the West Indies called “ortolan”—is also found in the same markets with the canvas-back.

    The Hunters' Feast Mayne Reid
  • ortolan (endorsed by Labbé) argues (work cited, p. 31) that populus plebsque no more implies separation than senatus populusque.

    The Evolution of States J. M. Robertson
  • The cage of the young bird was near that of an ortolan, a European bird noted as a singer, and a common cage-bird.

    The Children's Book of Birds Olive Thorne Miller
  • Its food is rather nasty—water-slugs and the like,—but it is itself as fat as an ortolan, "almost melts in the hand."

    Love's Meinie John Ruskin
  • But the youngster paid no attention to him, and kept up his ortolan notes.

    The Children's Book of Birds Olive Thorne Miller
  • Farther, he would give Monsieur an ortolan in a vine leaf, and a dish of stewed sorrel.

    Richelieu, v. 1/3 G. P. R. James
  • The ortolan Bunting, Emberiza hortulana, and some others, are fattened for the table in 191 five or six days.

    Reptiles and Birds Louis Figuier
British Dictionary definitions for ortolan


Also called ortolan bunting. a brownish Old World bunting, Emberiza hortulana, regarded as a delicacy
any of various other small birds eaten as delicacies, esp the bobolink
Word Origin
C17: via French from Latin hortulānus, from hortulus, diminutive of hortus garden
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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