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yardbird

[yahrd-burd]
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noun Slang.
  1. a convict or prisoner.
  2. an army recruit.
  3. a soldier confined to camp and assigned to cleaning the grounds or other menial tasks as punishment for violation of the rules.
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Origin of yardbird

1940–45, Americanism; yard2 + bird, by analogy with jailbird
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for yardbird

yardbird

noun
  1. US military an inexperienced, untrained, or clumsy soldier, esp one employed on menial duties
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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 yardbird

n.

"convict," 1956, from yard (n.1) + bird (n.1), from the notion of prison yards; earlier it meant "basic trainee" (World War II armed forces slang).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper