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noun (1)

bit·​tern ˈbi-tərn How to pronounce bittern (audio)
: any of various small or medium-sized, short-necked, usually secretive herons (especially genera Botaurus and Ixobrychus)


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noun (2)

: the bitter water solution of salts that remains after sodium chloride has crystallized out of a brine

Examples of bittern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Without golf balls whizzing overhead, the land has become habitat for migratory shorebirds, among them black-necked stilts, greater yellowlegs and sandpipers, and has even drawn the secretive American bittern. Cara Buckley, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Lafayette, Louisiana About a two-hour drive west of New Orleans, this city is the gateway to Cypress Island Preserve and Rip Van Winkle Gardens, both prime springtime habitats for bitterns, rails, and grebes. Alexandra Marvar, Travel + Leisure, 27 Aug. 2023 Single least bitterns at a Richmond marsh and in Cheshire, two worm-eating warbler on Mount Washington Road in Egremont, a hooded warbler at the Hopkins Memorial Forest, and 10 red crossbills at the October Mountain State Forest. Isabela Rocha,, 17 June 2023 Martha’s Vineyard: An American bittern in Aquinnah, a Philadelphia vireo near Daggetts Pond in West Tisbury, and five common ravens in Tisbury. Isabela Rocha,, 27 May 2023 An American bittern in Plympton and two sandhill cranes at Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area in Hanson. Grace Gilson,, 16 July 2022 Likewise, the inclusion of local communities was key to the Australasian bittern, a type of bird, moving from endangered to vulnerable. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, 9 Dec. 2022 Over the past several centuries, New Zealand has become home to the Australian bittern, the white-faced heron, the welcome swallow. Boyce Upholt, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bittern.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English bitoure, from Anglo-French butor, from Vulgar Latin *butitaurus, from Latin buteo hawk + taurus bull

Noun (2)

irregular from bitter entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1682, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bittern was circa 1530

Dictionary Entries Near bittern

Cite this Entry

“Bittern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: any of various small or medium-sized short-necked usually secretive herons

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