common tern

common tern

See under tern1. Unabridged


1 [turn]
any of numerous aquatic birds of the subfamily Sterninae of the family Laridae, related to the gulls but usually having a more slender body and bill, smaller feet, a long, deeply forked tail, and a more graceful flight, especially those of the genus Sterna, as S. hirundo (common tern) of Eurasia and America, having white, black, and gray plumage.

1670–80; < Danish terne or Norwegian terna; cognate with Old Norse therna Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tern1 (tɜːn)
any aquatic bird of the subfamily Sterninae, having a forked tail, long narrow wings, a pointed bill, and a typically black-and-white plumage: family Laridae (gulls, etc), order Charadriiformes
[C18: from Old Norse therna; related to Norwegian terna, Swedish tärna]

tern2 (tɜːn)
1.  a three-masted schooner
2.  rare a group of three
[C14: from Old French terne, from Italian terno, from Latin ternī three each; related to Latin ter thrice, trēs three]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

gull-like shore bird (subfamily Sterninae), 1678, via E.Anglian dialect, from a Scand. source (cf. Dan. terne, Swed. tärna, Færoese terna) related to O.N. þerna "tern," cognate with O.E. stearn "starling."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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