bittern

1
[ bit-ern ]
/ ˈbɪt ərn /

noun

any of several tawny brown herons that inhabit reedy marshes, as Botaurus lentiginosus (American bittern), of North America, and B. stellaris, of Europe.
any of several small herons of the genus Ixobrychus, as I. exilis (least bittern), of temperate and tropical North and South America.

Origin of bittern

1
1510–20; bitter, bittor bittern + -n (perhaps by association with heron), Middle English bito(u)r, butur, boto(u)r < Anglo-French bytore, Anglo-French, Old French butor < Vulgar Latin *būtitaurus, equivalent to *būti-, perhaps to be identified with Latin būteō a species of hawk (see buteo) + Latin taurus bull (cited by Pliny as a name for a bird emitting a bellowing sound)

Definition for bittern (2 of 2)

bittern2
[ bit-ern ]
/ ˈbɪt ərn /

noun Chemistry.

a bitter solution remaining in salt making after the salt has crystallized out of seawater or brine, used as a source of bromides, iodides, and certain other salts.

Origin of bittern

2
1675–85; variant of bittering; see bitter, -ing1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for bittern (1 of 2)

bittern1
/ (ˈbɪtən) /

noun

any wading bird of the genera Ixobrychus and Botaurus, related and similar to the herons but with shorter legs and neck, a stouter body, and a booming call: family Ardeidae, order Ciconiiformes

Word Origin for bittern

C14: from Old French butor, perhaps from Latin būtiō bittern + taurus bull; referring to its cry

British Dictionary definitions for bittern (2 of 2)

bittern2
/ (ˈbɪtən) /

noun

the bitter liquid remaining after common salt has been crystallized out of sea water: a source of magnesium, bromine, and iodine compounds

Word Origin for bittern

C17: variant of bittering; see bitter
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