auk (n.)

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.

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