- a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter; coxcomb; fop.
- British Dialect. a woodpecker, especially the green woodpecker.
- Archaic. the figure of a parrot usually fixed on a pole and used as a target in archery and gun shooting.
- Archaic. a parrot.
Origin of popinjay
Examples from the Web for popinjay
Yes, I was thinking what a popinjay I should look in a cocked hat.Syd Belton
George Manville Fenn
That it has given a peacock's strut to the popinjay Anthony Woodville.The Last Of The Barons, Complete
"Then will they miss seeing a man, and not a popinjay," I retorted.To Have and To Hold
Am I to be shot at like a popinjay at a fair, by any reaver or outlaw that seeks a mark for his bow?Sir Nigel
Arthur Conan Doyle
You should see the figure you cut with that popinjay in your arms.The Shadow of Life
Anne Douglas Sedgwick
- a conceited, foppish, or excessively talkative person
- an archaic word for parrot
- the figure of a parrot used as a target
Word Origin and History for popinjay
late 13c., "a parrot," from Old French papegai (12c.), from Spanish papagayo, from Arabic babagha', Persian babgha "parrot," possibly formed in an African or other non-Indo-European language and imitative of its cry. Ending probably assimilated in Western European languages to "jay" words (Old French jai, etc.).
Used of people in a complimentary sense (in allusion to beauty and rarity) from early 14c.; meaning "vain, talkative person" is first recorded 1520s. Obsolete figurative sense of "a target to shoot at" is explained by Cotgrave's 2nd sense definition: "also a woodden parrot (set up on the top of a steeple, high tree, or pole) whereat there is, in many parts of France, a generall shooting once euerie yeare; and an exemption, for all that yeare, from La Taille, obtained by him that strikes downe" all or part of the bird.