Thursday, March 23, 2006

Slang Primer No. 10

Herewith the 10th in a series of entries on slang, this one drawn from Robert L. Chapman's marvelous "Dictionary of American Slang (Third Edition)."


(1) noun. Middle 1800s: A person of either sex, usually a man and often elderly: "I'm a literary bird myself" -- F. Scott Fitzgerald "She was a tall old bird with a chin like a rabbit" -- Raymond Chandler.

(2.) noun. Middle 1800s: Someone or something excellent, a beaut, lulu

(3.) noun. College students by 1900: A young woman, chick (Much more common in British usage; regarded by some women as offensive)

(4.) noun. Middle 1800s: An odd or unusual person, an eccentric, flake, weirdo "He was a funny bird in many ways" -- Armistead Maupin

(5.) noun. Late 1800s: A male homosexual, gay

(6.) modifier. Laye 1800s: "A gaggle of guys in a Third Avenue bird bar" -- Judith Crist

(7.) noun. Armed forces from WWI: The eagle as an insignia of a colonel's rank

(8.) modifier. "A bird colonel"

(9.) noun. By 1918: Any aircraft, especially a helicopter

(10.) noun.1950s aeronautics: A rocket or guided missile

(11.) noun. 1970s aerospace: A communications satellite "'Gotta make the bird,' the guy says confidently" -- Toronto Life

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