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[spar-oh] /ˈspær oʊ/
any of numerous American finches of the family Emberizinae.
any member of the Old World genus Passer, formerly thought to be closely related to the weaverbirds but now placed in their own family, Passeridae.
British. the house sparrow.
any of several other unrelated small birds.
(initial capital letter) Military. a 12-foot (4-meter), all-weather, radar-guided U.S. air-to-air missile with an 88-pound (40-kg) high-explosive warhead.
Origin of sparrow
before 900; Middle English sparowe, Old English spearwa; cognate with Gothic sparwa, Old Norse spǫrr
Related forms
sparrowless, adjective
sparrowlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sparrow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • sparrow could have all the money he needed upon the following condition.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • He was not quarrelsome, though, like the sparrow; but peaceful, like the dove.

  • Surely that sparrow fell not to the ground without the Father's knowledge.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • The sparrow can live where the rest of the birds have no possible chance.

    The Meaning of Evolution Samuel Christian Schmucker
  • But the English sparrow is more adaptable than are the people.

    The Meaning of Evolution Samuel Christian Schmucker
  • It is exceedingly difficult to catch a sparrow in one's hand.

    The Meaning of Evolution Samuel Christian Schmucker
British Dictionary definitions for sparrow


any weaverbird of the genus Passer and related genera, esp the house sparrow, having a brown or grey plumage and feeding on seeds or insects
(US & Canadian) any of various North American finches, such as the chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina), that have a dullish streaked plumage
adjective passerine
Derived Forms
sparrow-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English spearwa; related to Old Norse spörr, Old High German sparo
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 sparrow

small brownish-gray bird, Old English spearwa, from Proto-Germanic *sparwan (cf. Old Norse spörr, Old High German sparo, German Sperling, Gothic sparwa), from PIE *sper- (cf. Cornish frau "crow;" Old Prussian spurglis "sparrow;" Greek spergoulos "small field bird," psar "starling"). Sparrowhawk is attested from c.1400. Sparrowfarts (1886) was Cheshire slang for "very early morning."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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