Origin of ossifrage

1595–1605; < Latin ossifraga sea eagle, literally, bone-breaker (noun use of feminine of ossifragus bone-breaking), equivalent to ossi- (combining form of os) bone + frag-, variant stem of frangere to break + -a nominative singular feminine noun and adj. ending
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ossifrage

Historical Examples of ossifrage

  • These are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

  • These are they of which ye shall not eat; the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

  • The word is said to be a corruption of Ossifrage, the "bone-breaker."

    An Australian Bird Book

    John Albert Leach

British Dictionary definitions for ossifrage


  1. an archaic name for lammergeier, osprey (def. 1)

Word Origin for ossifrage

C17: from Latin ossifraga sea eagle; see osprey
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 ossifrage

"sea-eagle, osprey," c.1600, from Latin ossifraga "vulture," fem. of ossifragus, literally "bone-breaker," from ossifragus (adj.) "bone-breaking," from os (genitive ossis) "bone" (see osseous) + stem of frangere "to break" (see fraction). By this name Pliny meant the lammergeier (from German, literally "lamb-vulture"), a very large Old World vulture that swallows and digests bones and was believed also to drop them from aloft to break them and get at the marrow. But in England and France, the word was transferred to the osprey, perhaps on similarity of sound between the two words.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper