[ aw-strich, os-trich ]
/ ˈɔ strɪtʃ, ˈɒs trɪtʃ /
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a large, two-toed, swift-footed flightless bird, Struthio camelus, indigenous to Africa and Arabia, domesticated for its plumage: the largest of living birds.
(not used scientifically) a rhea.
a person who attempts to ignore unpleasant facts or situations.
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Origin of ostrich

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English ostrice, ostriche, from Old French ostrusce (compare French autruche, ) from unattested Vulgar Latin avistrūthius, for Latin avis “bird” + Late Latin strūthiō, from Late Greek strouthíōn; see struthious


os·trich·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Where does ostrich come from?

A funny-looking animal with a funny origin story is the ostrich. When you look at an ostrich, with its small head, big, long legs, and large, fluffy body, the first thing you think of is a tiny, adorable sparrow, right? Wait, what?

As it happens, that’s what the ancient Greeks thought, apparently. The word ostrich ultimately comes from the Greek word strouthion, which comes from the Greek expression for “big sparrow.” That’s right, it seems the Greeks thought the ostrich was just a really big, weird sparrow.

Funnily enough, the ancient Greeks also called the ostrich strouthokamelos, which means “camel-sparrow,” because the bird has a long neck like a camel.

The roots of these other words may get a rise—of laughter or surprise—out of you. Run on over to our roundup of them at “Weird Word Origins That Will Make Your Family Laugh.”

Did you know … ?

  • The ostrich may look silly but you don’t want to make this huge bird mad. It is the world’s largest bird. It can run up to 43 mph/hr (70 km/hr), and its legs can be used to deliver devastating kicks.
  • A common myth surrounding the ostrich is that it buries its head in the sand when it is scared, a behavior that is the source of the idiom to hide/bury one’s head in the sand. In reality, ostriches can’t fly, so they lay their eggs in a hole in the ground, and occasionally they peek their head in to rotate them to ensure they are properly heated.
  • While the adjective ostrichlike describes something that resembles an ostrich, you can also use the word struthious, which comes from the ostrich’s original Greek name.

How to use ostrich in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ostrich

/ (ˈɒstrɪtʃ) /

noun plural -triches or -trich
a fast-running flightless African bird, Struthio camelus, that is the largest living bird, with stout two-toed feet and dark feathers, except on the naked head, neck, and legs: order StruthioniformesSee ratite Related adjective: struthious
American ostrich another name for rhea
a person who refuses to recognize the truth, reality, etc: a reference to the ostrich's supposed habit of burying its head in the sand

Word Origin for ostrich

C13: from Old French ostrice, from Latin avis bird + Late Latin struthio ostrich, from Greek strouthion
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