gray catbird

catbird

[kat-burd]
noun
  1. any of several American or Australian birds having catlike cries, especially Dumetella carolinensis (gray catbird), of North America.

Origin of catbird

An Americanism dating back to 1700–10; cat + bird
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for gray catbird

catbird

noun
  1. any of several North American songbirds of the family Mimidae (mockingbirds), esp Dumetella carolinensis, whose call resembles the mewing of a cat
  2. any of several Australian bowerbirds of the genera Ailuroedus and Scenopoeetes, having a catlike call
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

Word Origin and History for gray catbird

catbird

n.

1731, common name for the North American thrush (Dumetella Carolinensis), so called from its warning cry, which resembles that of a cat; from cat (n.) + bird (n.1). Catbird seat is a 19c. Dixieism, popularized by Brooklyn Dodgers baseball announcer Red Barber and by author James Thurber (1942).

"She must be a Dodger fan," he had said. "Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions--picked 'em up down South." Joey had gone on to explain one or two. "Tearing up the pea patch" meant going on a rampage; "sitting in the catbird seat" means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. [James Thurber, "The Catbird Seat," "The New Yorker," Nov. 14, 1942]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper