any of several longwinged, American goatsuckers of the genus Chordeiles, related to the whippoorwill, especially C. minor, having variegated black, white, and buff plumage.
the European goatsucker or nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus.
Informal. a person who is habitually up or moving about late at night; night owl.

Origin of nighthawk

First recorded in 1605–15; night + hawk1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for night-hawk

Historical Examples of night-hawk

  • Then they stagger off to seek a lonely car or a night-hawk taxi.


    Christopher Morley

  • As she spoke a night-hawk passed with a shriek, and the evening star was hid with a cloud.


    Richard Short

  • It guides their enemies—the night-hawk and the “whip-poor-will”, the bat, and the owl.

    The Rifle Rangers

    Captain Mayne Reid

  • And the owl, and the night-hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

  • A night-hawk swooped past the window with a startling whirr of wings.

    Copper Coleson's Ghost

    Edward P. Hendrick

British Dictionary definitions for night-hawk



Also called: bullbat, mosquito hawk any American nightjar of the genus Chordeiles and related genera, having a dark plumage and, in the male, white patches on the wings and tail
informal another name for night owl
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 night-hawk

from 1610s in reference to various birds, from night + hawk (n.). Figurative sense of "one who stays up and is active at night" is from 1818.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper