• synonyms


[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.
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Origin of whippoorwill

An Americanism dating back to 1700–10; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whippoorwill

Historical Examples of whippoorwill

  • The dusk sifted in about the house, faster and faster; a whippoorwill cried from the woods.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

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

  • It was just at dusk, and far away somewhere a whippoorwill was calling.

    Red Pepper Burns

    Grace S. Richmond

  • It belonged to the whippoorwill family, but was some larger.

  • The owl hooted at night, and the whippoorwill called in the twilight.

British Dictionary definitions for whippoorwill


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper