- (of animals, especially birds) to trim or dress (feathers, fur, etc.) with the beak or tongue: The peacock preened itself on the lawn.
- to dress (oneself) carefully or smartly; primp: The king preened himself in his elaborate ceremonial robes.
- to pride (oneself) on an achievement, personal quality, etc.: He preened himself on having been graduated with honors.
- to make oneself appear striking or smart in dress or appearance: No amount of careful preening will compensate for poor posture.
- to be exultant or proud.
Origin of preen1
- a pin or brooch.
Origin of preen2
Examples from the Web for preen
Hot pink takes the Preen by Thornton Bregazzi runway in London.LFW Photo of the Day: Sept. 15
September 15, 2013
This is not the first time Palin has attempted to sun and preen herself in the heat of a Thatcherite sun.Palin’s Delusions of Grandeur
June 8, 2011
Rather than preen about whether he could win, Christie considered whether he should win.2012's Presidential Whiners
May 29, 2011
An endless stream of 2012 presidential wannabes will preen for adoring fans and plentiful cameras.The Right Invades Washington
Samuel P. Jacobs, Shushannah Walshe
February 8, 2011
A few moments to preen and promenade for the cameras following months of planning and fitting, hours of hair and makeup.America's First Modern Celebrity
Laura Skandera Trombley
March 20, 2010
It is these on which they preen themselves, these by which they judge and condemn others.Erasmus and the Age of Reformation
A penny hain'd's a penny clear, and a preen a-day's a groat a-year.
He that winna lout and lift a preen will ne'er be worth a groat.
But when they got indoors, Mr. Preen let loose the vials of his wrath upon Oliver.
Not much more work there than Preen can do himself, I expect.
- (of birds) to maintain (feathers) in a healthy condition by arrangement, cleaning, and other contact with the bill
- to dress or array (oneself) carefully; primp
- (usually foll by on) to pride or congratulate (oneself)
- Scot a pin, esp a decorative one
Word Origin and History for preen
"to trim, to dress up," late 14c., perhaps a variation of Middle English proynen, proinen "trim the feather with the beak" (see prune (v.)); or perhaps from Old French poroindre "anoint before," and Old French proignier "round off, prune." Middle English prene (from Old English preon, a general Germanic word) meant "to pin," and probably influenced the form of this word. Watkins, however, connects it with Latin unguere "to smear, anoint."
Because of the popularity of falconry, bird activities formerly were more closely observed and words for them were more precise in English than today.
Youre hawke proynith and not pikith and she prenyth not bot whan she begynnyth at hir leggys, and fetcheth moystour like oyle at hir taill. ["Book of St. Albans," 1486]