Last modified on 9 July 2014, at 04:58



From Middle English foul, foghel, from Old English fugol, from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, dissimilated variant of *fluglaz (compare Old English flugol ‘fleeing’, Mercian fluglas heofun ‘fowls of the air’),[1] from *fleuganą ‘to fly’. Compare West Frisian fûgel, Low German Vagel, Dutch vogel, German Vogel, Danish fugl. More at fly.



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fowl (plural fowl or fowls)

  1. (archaic) A bird.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XIII:
      So thus he sorowed tyll hit was day, and harde the fowlys synge; than somwhat he was comforted.
  2. A bird of the order Galliformes, including chickens, turkeys, pheasant, partridges and quail.
  3. Birds which are hunted or kept for food, including Galliformes and also waterfowl of the order Anseriformes such as ducks, geese and swans.


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fowl (third-person singular simple present fowls, present participle fowling, simple past and past participle fowled)

  1. To hunt fowl.



  1. ^ C.T. Onions, ed., Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, s.v. "fowl" (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996), 374.

Middle EnglishEdit


From Old English fugol, from Proto-Germanic.


fowl (plural fowles)

  1. a bird
And smale fowles maken melodye
That slepen all the night with open ye - Chaucer, General Prologue, Canterbury Tales, ll.9-10