Definition of aerie
1 : the nest of a bird on a cliff or a mountaintop
2 obsolete : a brood of birds of prey
3 : an elevated often secluded dwelling, structure, or position
aerie was our Word of the Day on 01/31/2014. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
English poet John Milton put a variant of "aerie" to good use in Paradise Lost (1667), writing "...there the eagle and the stork / On cliffs and cedar tops their eyries build." But Milton wasn't the first to use the term, which comes to us via Medieval Latin and Old French and probably traces to an earlier Latin word for "nest" or "lair." English speakers had been employing "aerie" as a word for "bird's nest" for more than a century when Milton penned those words. Eventually, "aerie" was applied to human dwellings as well as birds' nests. At first, this sense referred to dwellings nestled high up in mountains or hills. These days, you're also likely to hear high-rise city apartments or offices referred to as "aeries."
Origin and Etymology of aerie
Medieval Latin aerea, from Old French aire, probably from Vulgar Latin *agrum origin, nest, lair, from Latin ager field — more at acre
First Known Use: circa 1520
AERIE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of aerie for English Language Learners
: the nest of a bird (such as an eagle or hawk) built high up on a cliff or on the top of a mountain
: a room or building built high up so that people inside can see things happening below them
Seen and Heard
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