the act of trimming or dressing the feathers, fur, etc., with the beak or tongue: Examples of animals engaging in the same behavior at the same time include the gobbling of turkeys and the preening of birds.
the act of dressing oneself carefully or smartly, or making small adjustments to one’s clothing to appear trim and smart; primping: I remember my grandma using that perfume—the scent, and the preening in front of the mirror that went with it.
the act of priding oneself on an achievement, personal quality, etc., especially in an obnoxious way: All the posing and preening by these politicians is not going to help if the program ends up making food less affordable.
(of birds or animals) trimming or dressing the feathers, fur, etc., with the beak or tongue: We got fabulous views of a preening pair of trumpeter swans on a large rock in the river.
dressing oneself carefully or smartly; primping: He is a preening ladies' man and social climber.
priding oneself on an achievement, personal quality, etc., especially in an obnoxious way: Once again you show yourself to be nothing but a preening pseudointellectual.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use preening in a sentence
“Pelosi,” by Molly BallIn Ball’s account, Nancy Pelosi is as tough as bullets and knows how to count votes, negotiate and herd her tribe — lost skills in American politics, atrophied in the modern-day rush to preen and tweet.
The book, surprisingly, is not the self-aggrandizing vanity trip of a preening pop star one would expect.
preening, arrogant, vindictive, and inexorable; awash with cash; corrupt; in bed with corporate America and big finance.Meet The Democrats’ Secret Savior Against Cuomo Corporatism | James Poulos | September 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Norm is a symbol of implacable corporate power—preening, surgically perfected, casually domineering.
Astonishingly, no one falls prey to the posturing or preening that haunts most Western conferences.
I looked up to see where my bird of paradise had landed—presumably in a soft cloud in the rafters, preening her feathers.
Jessie had dressed Henrietta, and the child was preening herself in the sun like a peacock.The Campfire Girls of Roselawn | Margaret Penrose
The doves were cooing and fluttering in the cornices and the cockatoo was preening his lemon colored topknot.The Adventures of Kathlyn | Harold MacGrath
He stopped short, drawing himself up and preening in the way that was half infuriating and half pathetic.Happy House | Betsey Riddle, Freifrau von Hutten zum Stolzenberg
Annie was careless, and she was dainty, and she was conscious of a little pleasurable preening of her own soul-plumage.The Butterfly House | Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Persis herself was like a pouter pigeon strutting and preening her high breast.What Will People Say? | Rupert Hughes