popinjay

popinjay

[pop-in-jey]
noun
1.
a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter; coxcomb; fop.
2.
British Dialect. a woodpecker, especially the green woodpecker.
3.
Archaic. the figure of a parrot usually fixed on a pole and used as a target in archery and gun shooting.
4.
Archaic. a parrot.

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English papejay, popingay, papinjai(e) < Middle French papegai, papingay parrot < Spanish papagayo < Arabic bab(ba)ghā'

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World English Dictionary
popinjay (ˈpɒpɪnˌdʒeɪ)
 
n
1.  a conceited, foppish, or excessively talkative person
2.  an archaic word for parrot
3.  the figure of a parrot used as a target
 
[C13 papeniai, from Old French papegay a parrot, from Spanish papagayo, from Arabic babaghā]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

popinjay
1270, "a parrot," from O.Fr. papegai (12c.), from Sp. papagayo, from Arabic babagha', from Pers. babgha "parrot," possibly imitative of its cry. Used of people in a complimentary sense (in allusion to beauty and rarity) from c.1310; meaning "vain, talkative person" is first recorded 1528. Obsolete fig.
sense of "a target to shoot at" is explained by Cotgrave's 2nd sense definition: "also a woodden parrot (set up on the top of a steeple, high tree, or pole) whereat there is, in many parts of France, a generall shooting once euerie yeare; and an exemption, for all that yeare, from La Taille, obtained by him that strikes downe" all or part of the bird.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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