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rara avis

[rair-uh ey-vis; Latin rah-rah ah-wis]
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noun, plural ra·rae a·ves [rair-ee ey-veez; Latin rah-rahy ah-wes] /ˈrɛər i ˈeɪ viz; Latin ˈrɑ raɪ ˈɑ wɛs/.
  1. a rare person or thing; rarity.
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Origin of rara avis

First recorded in 1600–10, rara avis is from the Latin word rāra avis rare bird
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for rara avis

rara avis

noun plural rarae aves (ˈrɛəriː ˈeɪviːz)
  1. an unusual, uncommon, or exceptional person or thing
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Word Origin

Latin: rare bird
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

Word Origin and History for rara avis

n.

c.1600, "peculiar person," from Latin rara avis, literally "strange bird," from rara, fem. of rarus "rare" (see rare (adj.1)) + avis "bird" (see aviary). Latin plural is raræ aves. Horace's peacock (a Roman delicacy), Juvenal's black swan ("Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper