[hwip-er-wil, wip-; hwip-er-wil, wip-]


a nocturnal North American nightjar, Caprimulgus vociferus, having a variegated plumage of gray, black, white, and tawny.

Origin of whippoorwill

An Americanism dating back to 1700–10; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of whippoorwill

British Dictionary definitions for whippoorwill



a nightjar, Caprimulgus vociferus, of North and Central America, having a dark plumage with white patches on the tail

Word Origin for whippoorwill

C18: imitative of its cry
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 whippoorwill

1709, imitative of its cry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper