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[yahrd-burd] /ˈyɑrdˌbɜrd/
noun, Slang.
a convict or prisoner.
an army recruit.
a soldier confined to camp and assigned to cleaning the grounds or other menial tasks as punishment for violation of the rules.
Origin of yardbird
1940-45, Americanism; yard2 + bird, by analogy with jailbird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for yardbird


(US, military) an inexperienced, untrained, or clumsy soldier, esp one employed on menial duties
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 yardbird

"convict," 1956, from yard (n.1) + bird (n.1), from the notion of prison yards; earlier it meant "basic trainee" (World War II armed forces slang).

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



  1. A convict (1956+)
  2. A recruit; a asi trainee (WWII armed forces)
  3. A soldier who because of ineptitude or misdemeanor is confined to a certain area, and often ordered to keep it clean and neat (WWII armed forces)

[fr the fact that convicts exercise in the yard of the prison, and that neophyte soldiers are confined to the grounds of the training post during their first weeks; the basic metaphor is probably based on the behavior of urban pigeons]

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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