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Origin of jailbird

First recorded in 1595–1605; jail + bird
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of jailbird

British Dictionary definitions for jailbird



  1. a person who is or has been confined to jail, esp repeatedly; convict
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 jailbird

1610s, based on an image of a caged bird; from jail (n.) + bird (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper