Origin of popinjay
Examples from the Web for popinjay
This was the figure of a bird, decked with party-coloured feathers, so as to resemble a popinjay or parrot.Old Mortality, Complete, Illustrated|Sir Walter Scott
The house which had witnessed strange scenes played by stronger actors might be trusted to deal sternly with this popinjay.The House 'Round the Corner|Gordon Holmes
"Oh, I don't set up to be a popinjay," retorted Welch witheringly.The Battle Ground|Ellen Glasgow
The business of life is pleasure on the greensward, with shooting at the popinjay!
The royal company of archers of Kilwinning—dating, it is said, as far back as 1488—meet every July to shoot at the popinjay.
British Dictionary definitions for popinjay
Word Origin for popinjay
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.