[ preen ]
/ prin /
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See synonyms for: preen / preened on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)

(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.

verb (used without object)

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.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of preen

1480–90; late Middle English prene, variant of Middle English prunen, proynen (see prune3), perhaps by association with prenen, to stab, pierce (v. use, now dial., of prenepreen2), from the pricking action of a bird's beak in preening


preener, nounun·preened, adjective

Definition for preen (2 of 2)

[ preen ]
/ prin /

noun Chiefly British Dialect.

a pin or brooch.

Origin of preen

before 1000; Middle English prene,Old English prēon a pin; cognate with Old Norse prjōnn pin; akin to Dutch priem,German Pfreim awl
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for preen

British Dictionary definitions for preen (1 of 2)

/ (priːn) /


(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)

Derived forms of preen

preener, noun

Word Origin for preen

C14 preinen, probably from prunen to prune ³, influenced by prenen to prick, pin (see preen ²); suggestive of the pricking movement of the bird's beak

British Dictionary definitions for preen (2 of 2)

/ (priːn) /


Scot a pin, esp a decorative one

Word Origin for preen

Old English prēon a pin; related to Middle High German pfrieme awl, Dutch priem bodkin
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