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[roost] /rust/
a perch upon which birds or fowls rest at night.
a large cage, house, or place for fowls or birds to roost in.
a place for sitting, resting, or lodging.
verb (used without object)
to sit or rest on a roost, perch, etc.
to settle or stay, especially for the night.
come home to roost, (of an action) to revert or react unfavorably to the doer; boomerang:
an evil deed that came home to roost and ruined his life.
rule the roost, to be in charge or control; dominate:
It was only too apparent that his grandfather ruled the roost.
Origin of roost
before 1100; Middle English roost (noun), Old English hrōst; cognate with Middle Dutch roest
Related forms
unroosted, adjective
unroosting, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for roosting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pigeons were roosting and nestling all over her, on her hands, her waist, and her shoulders.

  • Mrs. Granby was roosting all by herself on a sofy in the parlor.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Julius, who was mate, was roosting on the lee rail amid-ships, helping him swear.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • But a thing with feathers, roosting in a tree, must be some kind of a fowl—yes?

  • Overhead the rooks streamed homewards to their roosting trees.

    Wood Magic

    Richard Jefferies
  • "My wife's gravestone is the parrots' roosting place," said Fernando.

    When the Owl Cries Paul Bartlett
  • There were indications that pigeons had been roosting there?

    Warren Commission (3 of 26): Hearings Vol. III (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
  • They inhabit open woods as a rule, often roosting at night in swamps.

    Manual of Taxidermy Charles Johnson Maynard
  • He crossed a wall on which three or four boys were roosting.

    Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City

    S. R. (Samuel Rutherford) Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for roosting


a place, perch, branch, etc, where birds, esp domestic fowl, rest or sleep
a temporary place to rest or stay
rule the roost, See rule (sense 20)
(intransitive) to rest or sleep on a roost
(intransitive) to settle down or stay
come home to roost, to have unfavourable repercussions
Word Origin
Old English hrōst; related to Old Saxon hrost loft, German Rost grid


the Roost, a powerful current caused by conflicting tides around the Shetland and Orkney Islands
Word Origin
C16: from Old Norse röst
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 roosting



late Old English hrost "wooden framework of a roof, perch for domestic fowl," from Proto-Germanic *hro(d)-st- (cf. Old Saxon hrost "framework of a roof, attic," Middle Dutch, Flemish, Dutch roest "roost," Old Norse hrot, Gothic hrot "roof," of unknown origin. Exact relationship and ulterior connections unknown. Extended sense "hen-house" is from 1580s. To rule the roost is recorded from 1769.



1520s, from roost (n.). Related: Roosted; roosting. Chickens come home to roost in reference to eventual consequences of bad actions attested from 1824; the original proverb seems to have been curses, like chickens, come home to roost.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for roosting



One's home; pad (1940s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with roosting
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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