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[kat-burd] /ˈkætˌbɜrd/
any of several American or Australian birds having catlike cries, especially Dumetella carolinensis (gray catbird) of North America.
Origin of catbird
1700-10, Americanism; cat1 + bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for catbird


any of several North American songbirds of the family Mimidae (mockingbirds), esp Dumetella carolinensis, whose call resembles the mewing of a cat
any of several Australian bowerbirds of the genera Ailuroedus and Scenopoeetes, having a catlike call
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 catbird

1731, common name for the North American thrush (Dumetella Carolinensis), so called from its warning cry, which resembles that of a cat; from cat (n.) + bird (n.1). Catbird seat is a 19c. Dixieism, popularized by Brooklyn Dodgers baseball announcer Red Barber and by author James Thurber (1942).

"She must be a Dodger fan," he had said. "Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions--picked 'em up down South." Joey had gone on to explain one or two. "Tearing up the pea patch" meant going on a rampage; "sitting in the catbird seat" means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. [James Thurber, "The Catbird Seat," "The New Yorker," Nov. 14, 1942]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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