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[nahyt-n-geyl, nahy-ting-] /ˈnaɪt nˌgeɪl, ˈnaɪ tɪŋ-/
any of several small, Old World, migratory birds of the thrush family, especially Luscinia megarhynchos, of Europe, noted for the melodious song of the male, given chiefly at night during the breeding season.
Origin of nightingale
1200-50; Middle English nightyngale, nasalized variant of nightegale, Old English nihtegale, cognate with German Nachtigall, literally, night singer (compare Old English galan sing; akin to yell)


[nahyt-n-geyl, nahy-ting-] /ˈnaɪt nˌgeɪl, ˈnaɪ tɪŋ-/
Florence ("the Lady with the Lamp") 1820–1910, English nurse: reformer of hospital conditions and procedures; reorganizer of nurse's training programs. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nightingale
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No, the thrush is not a migrant in the sense that the nightingale is or the turtle-dove.

    Birds of the wave and woodland Phil (Philip Stewart) Robinson
  • Off it appeared two small islands, known as Inaccessible and nightingale.

    The Three Commanders W.H.G. Kingston
  • In the midst of the great hall, where the Emperor sat, a golden perch had been placed, on which the nightingale was to sit.

    Children's Literature Charles Madison Curry
  • I suppose you heard the results of the nightingale read out.

  • Elizabeth's step was slower, her voice more musical, even as a nightingale sings her sweetest to the moon.

    The Ladies E. Barrington
  • Apuleius had been changed, not into a nightingale, but into an ass!

  • Shades of Rousseau and Wordsworth, to mention the nightingale and the ortolans in one breath!

    Thomas Jefferson Gilbert Chinard
  • I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you, an 't were any nightingale.

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
  • Haabunai and Song of the nightingale brought forth the drums.

British Dictionary definitions for nightingale


a brownish European songbird, Luscinia megarhynchos, with a broad reddish-brown tail: well known for its musical song, usually heard at night
any of various similar or related birds, such as Luscinia luscinia (thrush nightingale)
Word Origin
Old English nihtegale, literally: night-singer, from night + galan to sing


Florence, known as the Lady with the Lamp. 1820–1910, English nurse, famous for her work during the Crimean War. She helped to raise the status and quality of the nursing profession and founded a training school for nurses in London (1860)
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 nightingale

Old English næctigalæ, nihtegale, compound formed in Proto-Germanic (cf. Dutch nachtegaal, German Nachtigall) from *nakht- "night" (see night) + *galon "to sing," related to Old English giellan "yell" (see yell). With parasitic -n- that appeared mid-13c. Dutch nightingale "frog" is attested from 1769. In Japanese, "nightingale floor" is said to be the term for boards that creak when you walk on them.

French rossignol (Old French lousseignol) is, with Spanish ruiseñor, Portuguese rouxinol, Italian rosignuolo, from Vulgar Latin *rosciniola, dissimilated from Latin lusciniola "nightingale," diminutive of luscinia "nightingale."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nightingale in Medicine

Nightingale Night·in·gale (nīt'n-gāl', nī'tĭng-), Florence. 1820-1910.

British nurse who organized (1854) and directed a unit of field nurses during the Crimean War and is considered the founder of modern nursing.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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