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.