• synonyms


[sheer-waw-ter, -wot-er]
  1. any of several long-winged petrels of the genus Puffinus that appear to shear the water with their wing tips when flying low.
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Origin of shearwater

First recorded in 1665–75; shear + water
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shearwater

Historical Examples

  • The upper parts of this Shearwater are black, the lower parts white.

    British Sea Birds

    Charles Dixon

  • Coultas (field notes) gives an interesting account of nesting activities of this shearwater at the Palau Islands.

British Dictionary definitions for shearwater


  1. any of several oceanic birds of the genera Puffinus, such as P. puffinus (Manx shearwater), Procellaria, etc, specialized for an aerial or aquatic existence: family Procellariidae, order Procellariiformes (petrels)
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Word Origin

C17: so named because their wings seem to clip the waves when they are flying low
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