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[hwip-er-wil, wip-; hwip-er-wil, wip-] /ˈʰwɪp ərˌwɪl, ˈwɪp-; ˌʰwɪp ərˈwɪl, ˌwɪp-/
a nocturnal North American nightjar, Caprimulgus vociferus, having a variegated plumage of gray, black, white, and tawny.
Origin of whippoorwill
1700-10, Americanism; imitative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for whippoorwill
Historical Examples
  • The moon had risen and a whippoorwill was chanting his weird song on the lawn as Ben left them leaning on the gate.

    The Clansman Thomas Dixon
  • The dusk sifted in about the house, faster and faster; a whippoorwill cried from the woods.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
  • In fact, Tory and Miss Frean did not go indoors until, from somewhere deep in the woods, a whippoorwill began his evening call.

  • And if I win, I claim the first whippoorwill you shoot; the second may go to your aunt.

  • Silence, and then a whippoorwill answered sharply from out the forest.

    America First Frances Nimmo Greene
  • He listened tensely, too, and fancied that he heard a whippoorwill.

    The Roof Tree Charles Neville Buck
  • All nature seemed to have gone to rest; not a whippoorwill chanted nor an owl hooted about the old buildings.

    A Busy Year at the Old Squire's Charles Asbury Stephens
  • Even the call of a whippoorwill in the adjoining pasture worried me.

    The Face of the Fields Dallas Lore Sharp
  • I inquired if there was another bird here, something like the whippoorwill, meaning the chuck-will's-widow.

    Spring notes from Tennessee Bradford Torrey
  • It is little wonder that so many legends and omens follow the whippoorwill.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
British Dictionary definitions for whippoorwill


a nightjar, Caprimulgus vociferus, of North and Central America, having a dark plumage with white patches on the tail
Word Origin
C18: imitative of its cry
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 whippoorwill

1709, imitative of its cry.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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