• synonyms


[hweet-eer, weet-]
  1. any of several small, chiefly Old World thrushes of the genus Oenanthe, having a distinctive white rump, especially O. oenanthe, of Eurasia and North America.
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Origin of wheatear

1585–95; probably back formation from wheatears, for *whiteers white rump. See white, arse
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wheatear

Historical Examples

  • As a matter of fact, the winter home of the wheatear is Africa.

    Highways & Byways in Sussex

    E.V. Lucas

  • It is approached in delicacy by our Wheatear, which is termed the English Ortolan.

  • The migrations of the Wheatear must be performed very quickly.

  • The migrations of the Wheatear are practically coincident in date.

  • One would not expect to find a wheatear in a wood, or a wren in a reed-bed.

    Birds in Flight

    W. P. Pycraft

British Dictionary definitions for wheatear


  1. any small northern songbird of the genus Oenanthe, esp O. oenanthe, a species having a pale grey back, black wings and tail, white rump, and pale brown underparts: subfamily Turdinae (thrushes)
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Word Origin

C16: back formation from wheatears (wrongly taken as plural), probably from white + arse; compare Dutch witstaart, French culblanc white tail
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 wheatear


type of bird, 1590s, back-formation from white-ears, literally "white-arse" (see white + arse). So called for its color markings; cf. French name for the bird, cul-blanc, literally "white rump."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper