[kes-truh l]


a common small falcon, Falco tinnunculus, of northern parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, notable for hovering in the air with its head to the wind.
any of several related small falcons, as the American kestrel, F. sparverius.

Origin of kestrel

1400–50; late Middle English castrell < Middle French quercerelle, metathetic variant of crecerelle, of disputed orig. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for kestrel

Historical Examples of kestrel

  • The crew of the Kestrel consisted of less than fifty men, most of them Irishmen.


    Talbot Baines Reed

  • She proved to be the “Kestrel,” of 18 guns, Commander Holmes.

    Owen Hartley; or, Ups and Downs

    William H. G. Kingston

  • He had no home of his own, for his parents were dead; and this was not his first visit to Kestrel.

    Saint's Progress

    John Galsworthy

  • Do you mean that I shall be appointed to the command of the Kestrel?

    In the King's Name

    George Manville Fenn

  • Then it falls, hangs for a moment in the air like a kestrel, and returns to its perch.

British Dictionary definitions for kestrel



any of several small falcons, esp the European Falco tinnunculus, that tend to hover against the wind and feed on small mammals on the ground

Word Origin for kestrel

C15: changed from Old French cresserele, from cressele rattle, from Vulgar Latin crepicella (unattested), from Latin crepitāre to crackle, from crepāre to rustle
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 kestrel

kind of falcon, c.1600, earlier castrell (15c.), probably from Middle French cresserelle, which apparently is related to crecerelle "rattle," from Latin crepitacillium "small rattle," diminutive of crepitaculum "noisy bell, rattle," from crepitare "to crackle, rattle;" possibly from the old belief that their noise frightened away other hawks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper