• preen
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PREEN\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
: to groom with the bill
2
: to dress or smooth up : primp
3
: to pride or congratulate (oneself) on an achievement : to behave or speak with obvious pride or self-satisfaction
  • EXAMPLES

Even though he was particularly thrilled about the promotion, Jeff tried hard not to preen in front of his coworkers.

"Both birds seem to be in very good condition. They will perch on a branch and preen themselves after some of their work periods." — From an article by Bud Simpson in The Logan Daily News, November 23, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?

The incubation of "preen" began in 14th-century Middle English with the spelling "prenen," which can itself be traced to the Anglo-French forms "pur-," meaning "thoroughly," and "uindre" or "oindre," meaning "to anoint or rub." One of the first writers to apply "preen" to the human act of primping was Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales. It took a long time—around 500 years—for the prideful meaning of "preen" to hatch, but another bird-related word, "plume," was available for use with the meaning "to pride or congratulate (oneself)" from the first half of the 17th century.

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "algid," our Word of the Day from December 19? The answer is ...

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE
  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account