Origin of jackdaw

First recorded in 1535–45; jack1 + daw
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for jackdaw

Historical Examples of jackdaw

  • A Jackdaw once ran up to a Glow-Worm and was about to seize him.

  • Our jackdaw friend, for economic reasons, had found a lodging elsewhere.


    David Christie Murray

  • He at once clipped the Jackdaw's wings, and taking him home at night, gave him to his children.

  • M is for Maja, learning to draw; N is for Nicholas, with a jackdaw.

  • “And the rabbits and the jackdaw and the owl,” added Ambrose.

    The Hawthorns

    Amy Walton

British Dictionary definitions for jackdaw


  1. a large common Eurasian passerine bird, Corvus monedula, in which the plumage is black and dark grey: noted for its thieving habits: family Corvidae (crows)

Word Origin for jackdaw

C16: from jack 1 + daw
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 jackdaw

1540s, the common name of the daw (Corvus monedula), "which frequents church towers, old buildings, etc.; noted for its loquacity and thievish propensities" [OED]. See jack (n.) + daw.

In modern times, parrots are almost the only birds that have the gift of speech, though connoisseurs are not ignorant that starlings and jackdaws have good abilities in that way, when properly educated. ["Chambers' Home Book and Pocket Miscellany," 1853]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper