type of large, colonial diving bird, 1670s, a Northern England name, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse alka, probably originally imitative of a water-bird cry (compare Latin olor "swan," Greek elea "marsh bird"). Originally and properly the great auk, which once abounded on North Atlantic coasts; hunted for food, bait, and its down, the species became extinct c. 1850.
c. 1600, "peculiar person, person of a type seldom encountered," from Latin rara avis, literally "strange bird," from rara, fem. of rarus "rare" (see rare (adj.1)) + avis "bird" (see aviary). Latin plural is raræ aves. A phrase used of Horace's peacock (a Roman delicacy), Juvenal's black swan ("Rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno"). A figure perhaps natural to the superstitious Romans, who divined by bird-watching.
"predatory oscine passerine bird notable for its long, toothed bill," 1540s, apparently from a survival of Old English scric "a shrike or thrush," literally "bird with a shrill call," probably echoic of its cry and related to shriek (compare Old Norse skrikja "shrieker, shrike," German schrik "moor hen," Swedish skrika "jay"), which in Middle English also was used of bird cries.
"aircraft pilot," 1887, from French aviateur, from Latin avis "bird" (from PIE root *awi- "bird") + -ateur. Also used c. 1891 in a sense of "aircraft, flying-machine." Feminine form aviatrix is from 1927; earlier aviatrice (1910), aviatress (1911).
monstrous bird, rational and ancient, in Persian mythology, 1786 ("Vathek"), from Persian simurgh, from Pahlavi sin "eagle" + murgh "bird." Compare Avestan saeno merego "eagle," Sanskrit syenah "eagle," Armenian cin "kite." The thing is probably identical with the roc (q.v.).
type of bird (several species of the family Cypselidæ, resembling swallows), 1660s, from swift (adj.) in reference to its swift flight. Regarded as a bird of ill-omen, if not downright demonic, probably for its shrill cry. The name earlier had been given to several small fast lizards (1520s).
small, short-billed North American bird species, the Carolina rail, 1705, probably from a native name.
"art or act of flying," 1866, from French aviation, noun of action from stem of Latin avis "bird" (from PIE root *awi- "bird"). Coined in 1863 by French aviation pioneer Guillaume Joseph Gabriel de La Landelle (1812-1886) in "Aviation ou Navigation aérienne."
"large, flightless bird of Australia and Papua," 1610s, via French or Dutch, from Malay (Austronesian) kasuari.