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early 13c., from Old French ostruce "ostrich" (Modern French autruche) and Medieval Latin ostrica, ostrigius, all from Vulgar Latin avis struthio, from Latin avis "bird" (see aviary) + Late Latin struthio "ostrich," from Greek strouthion "ostrich," from strouthos megale "big sparrow," perhaps from PIE *trozdo- "thrush" (see thrush (n.1)). The Greeks also knew the bird as strouthokamelos "camel-sparrow," for its long neck. Among its proverbial peculiarities are indiscriminate voracity (especially a habit of swallowing iron and stone to aid digestion), want of regard for its eggs, and a tendency to hide its head in the sand when pursued.
Like the Austridge, who hiding her little head, supposeth her great body obscured. [1623, recorded in OED]Ostriches do put their heads in the sand, but ostrich farmers say they do this in search of something to eat.
(Lam. 4:3), the rendering of Hebrew pl. enim; so called from its greediness and gluttony. The allusion here is to the habit of the ostrich with reference to its eggs, which is thus described: "The outer layer of eggs is generally so ill covered that they are destroyed in quantities by jackals, wild-cats, etc., and that the natives carry them away, only taking care not to leave the marks of their footsteps, since, when the ostrich comes and finds that her nest is discovered, she crushes the whole brood, and builds a nest elsewhere." In Job 39:13 this word in the Authorized Version is the rendering of a Hebrew word (notsah) which means "feathers," as in the Revised Version. In the same verse the word "peacocks" of the Authorized Version is the rendering of the Hebrew pl. renanim, properly meaning "ostriches," as in the Revised Version. (See OWL ØT0002815 .)