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[jeyl-burd] /ˈdʒeɪlˌbɜrd/
a person who is or has been confined in jail; convict or ex-convict.
Origin of jailbird
1595-1605; jail + bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jailbird
Historical Examples
  • In front of the jailbird the only light came from within and made scant war on the lurking darkness without.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch Jackson Gregory
  • "If he's a jailbird I'll hate to see him in these parts," went on the farmer soberly.

    The Rover Boys in the Air Edward Stratemeyer
  • He saw Paul in a jailbird's uniform, but while he agonized he didn't believe the tale.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • I guess ye'll not be findin' anybody that will be wantin' a jailbird.

    Just Patty Jean Webster
  • The fellers say that hes been a jailbird, an they dont want him in the house.

  • Poor devil, hes got all the marks of the jailbird about him.

  • The boy cocked one eye at him—he knew that Jurgis was a "jailbird" by his shaven head.

    The Jungle Upton Sinclair
  • As though their presence had been a command for silence, a sudden hush fell over the jailbird.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch Jackson Gregory
  • Second, and a heap more important, because the jailbird had threatened Miss Beulah.

    The Sheriff's Son William MacLeod Raine
  • It was a situation by no means new to the four walls of the jailbird nor to the men concerned.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch Jackson Gregory
British Dictionary definitions for jailbird


a person who is or has been confined to jail, esp repeatedly; convict
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 jailbird

1610s, based on an image of a caged bird; from jail (n.) + bird (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jailbird



A convict or ex-convict (1618+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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