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

  1. 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

Words Nearby whippoorwill

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How to use whippoorwill in a sentence

  • And if I win, I claim the first whippoorwill you shoot; the second may go to your aunt.

  • The nighthawk and whippoorwill are its relatives, and it resembles them not a little, especially in its nocturnal habits.

    Bird Neighbors | Neltje Blanchan
  • In fact, Tory and Miss Frean did not go indoors until, from somewhere deep in the woods, a whippoorwill began his evening call.

  • In the warm, scented dusk the locusts shrilled in the trees, and far up the gorge the whippoorwill called and called.

    Audrey | Mary Johnston
  • He heard Quekolis, the whippoorwill, raising his doleful lament down near the river.

    Running Fox | Elmer Russell Gregor

British Dictionary definitions for whippoorwill


/ (ˈwɪpʊˌwɪl) /

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

Origin of 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