Denotation vs. Connotation


[blak-burd] /ˈblækˌbɜrd/
a common European thrush, Turdus merula, the male of which is black with a yellow bill.
any of several American birds of the family Icteridae, having black plumage.
any of several other unrelated birds having black plumage in either or both sexes.
(formerly) a person, especially a Kanaka, who was kidnapped and sold abroad, usually in Australia, as a slave.
verb (used with object)
to kidnap (a person), as in blackbirding.
verb (used without object)
to engage in blackbirding.
Origin of blackbird
1480-90; earlier blacke bride. See black, bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for blackbird
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But she heard the chirrup of the sparrows, the call of thrush and blackbird, and far away the hymn of praise of the skylark.

    Petticoat Rule Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy
  • Yet the blackbird is older even than I. Go listen to her story.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • About this time, too, the blackbird did not feel quite well––he was listless, his wings would droop in spite of himself.

    What the Blackbird said Mrs. Frederick Locker
  • No amount of hushing has any effect; you might just as well hush a blackbird or a thrush.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
  • When a blackbird chased a crow above her, and she sat up to watch the aerial privateering, Mr. Schwirtz began to talk.

    The Job Sinclair Lewis
  • It was getting late, and as yet the blackbird had had no breakfast.

    What the Blackbird said Mrs. Frederick Locker
British Dictionary definitions for blackbird


a common European thrush, Turdus merula, in which the male has a black plumage and yellow bill and the female is brown
any of various American orioles having a dark plumage, esp any of the genus Agelaius
(history) a person, esp a South Sea Islander, who was kidnapped and sold as a slave, esp in Australia
(transitive) (formerly) to kidnap and sell into slavery
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
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Word Origin and History for blackbird

late 15c. (late 13c. as a surname), from black (adj.) + bird (n.1). OED says so called for being the only "black" (really dark brown) bird among the songbirds, reflecting an older sense of bird that did not include rooks, crows, ravens.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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