bird of the family Columbidae, early Middle English douve, 12c., probably from Old English dufe- (found only in compounds), from Proto-Germanic *dubon (source also of Old Saxon duba, Old Norse dufa, Swedish duva, Middle Dutch duve, Dutch duif, Old High German tuba, German Taube, Gothic -dubo), perhaps related to words for "dive," but the application is not clear unless it be somehow in reference to its flight.
Originally applied to all pigeons, now mostly restricted to the turtle dove. A symbol of gentleness, innocence, and tender affection from early Christian times, also of the Holy Spirit (as in Genesis viii.8-12), and of peace and deliverance from anxiety. A term of endearment since late 14c. Political meaning "person who advocates peace" attested by 1917, from the Christian dove of peace. Middle English also had dovesse "female dove" (early 15c.).