magpie

magpie (n.) the common European bird, known for its chattering, c.1600, earlier simply pie (early 13c.); first element from MAG (Cf. Mag), nickname for Margaret, long used in proverbial and slang English for qualities associated generally with women, especially in this case "idle chattering" (Cf. Magge tales "tall tales, nonsense," early 15c.; also Fr. margot "magpie," from Margot, pet form of Marguerite).
Second element, pie, is the earlier name of the bird, from O.Fr. pie, from L. pica "magpie," fem. of picus "woodpecker," possibly from PIE root *pi-, denoting pointedness, of the beak, perhaps, but the magpie also has a long, pointed tail. The birds are proverbial for pilfering and hoarding, can be taught to speak, and have been regarded since the Middle Ages as ill omens.
Whan pyes chatter vpon a house it is a sygne of ryghte euyll tydynges. [1507]
Divination by number of magpies is attested from c.1780 in Lincolnshire; the rhyme varies from place to place, the only consistency being that one is bad, two are good.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Magpie — Mag pie, n. [OE. & Prov. E. magot pie, maggoty pie, fr. Mag, Maggot, equiv. to Margaret, and fr. F. Marquerite, and common name of the magpie. Marguerite is fr. L. margarita pearl, Gr. ?, prob. of Eastern origin. See {Pie} magpie, and cf. the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Magpie — (engl. für „Elster“) bezeichnet: Magpie (Québec), Dorf in der Gemeinde Rivière Saint Jean in der Regionalgemeinde Minganie, Québec, Kanada Rivière Magpie, Nebenfluss des Sankt Lorenz Stroms in Québec, Kanada Magpie River, Fluss zum Oberen See in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Magpie — ( Pie bavarde en français) est un village du Québec, au Canada, située sur la Cote Nord, entre Rivière au Tonnerre et Rivière Saint Jean. Il est une localité dans la municipalité de Rivière Saint Jean. Magpie compte près de 200 habitants[1].… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • magpie — ► NOUN 1) a long tailed bird of the crow family with pied plumage and a raucous voice. 2) a black and white Australian butcher bird with musical calls. 3) a person who obsessively collects things or who chatters idly. ORIGIN probably a shortening …   English terms dictionary

  • Magpie — A term describing black and white effects upon laces and veiling …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • magpie — [mag′pī΄] n. [< Mag, dim. of MARGARET + PIE3] 1. any of several jaylike corvids, passerine birds characterized by black and white coloring, a long, tapering tail, and a habit of noisy chattering 2. a person who chatters 3. a person who… …   English World dictionary

  • Magpie — This article is about the birds in the family Corvidae. For the Australasian bird in the family Artamidae, see Australian Magpie. For other uses, see Magpie (disambiguation). Magpies European Magpie …   Wikipedia

  • magpie — /mag puy /, n. 1. either of two corvine birds, Pica pica (black billed magpie), of Eurasia and North America, or P. nuttalli (yellow billed magpie), of California, having long, graduated tails, black and white plumage, and noisy, mischievous… …   Universalium

  • magpie — /ˈmægpaɪ / (say magpuy) noun 1. Also, Australian magpie. a common black and white bird, Gymnorhina tibicen, with a solid body, strong legs, and a large pointed bill, found throughout Australia and in New Guinea, and noted for its beautiful song… …   Australian English dictionary

  • magpie — [17] The original name of the magpie was simply pie, which came via Old French from Latin pīca. This is thought to go back ultimately to Indo European *spi or *pi , denoting ‘pointedness’, in reference to its beak (the Latin masculine form, pīcus …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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