buz·​zard ˈbə-zərd How to pronounce buzzard (audio)
chiefly British : buteo
: any of various usually large birds of prey (such as the turkey vulture)
: a contemptible or rapacious person

Did you know?

In Britain, the word buzzard refers chiefly to several birds of prey of the hawk genus Buteo. In North America, a buzzard is any of various New World vultures, especially the turkey vulture. In Australia, a large hawk of the genus Hamirostra is called a black-breasted buzzard. Buteos, also called buzzard hawks, can usually be distinguished when soaring by their broad wings and expansive rounded tail. The plumage of most species is dark brown above and white or mottled brown below; the tail and underside of the wings are usually barred. Buteos customarily prey on insects, small mammals, and occasionally birds. They nest in trees or on cliffs. Species range over much of the New World, Eurasia, and Africa. The red-tailed hawk, the most common North American buteo, is about 2 ft (60 cm) long.

Examples of buzzard in a Sentence

the real estate buzzards were really putting pressure on the one homeowner who was still refusing to sell that crotchety old man can be a real buzzard when he's in a bad mood—which is usually the case
Recent Examples on the Web For 10 days, the people of Tefé have awakened to a terrible sight: the carcasses of pink river dolphins floating in Lake Tefé, food for circling buzzards. Diana Durán, Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2023 Dogs and buzzards fought over a dead cat in the middle of the street, directly across from an officer who watched the ferocious struggle from a barred window, twirling the ends of his moustache. Alexander Sammon, Harper's Magazine, 25 July 2022 And birds of prey like buzzards, sparrowhawks, barn owls, and tawny owls. Elizabeth Waddington, Treehugger, 13 Sep. 2023 The black vulture has a black head and is different from the turkey vulture, which is the bird most of us in Alabama call a buzzard. Ike Morgan |, al, 3 July 2023 Twenty-six bird species in the world are called buzzards, including the honey-buzzard, the lizard buzzard, the forest buzzard and the long-legged buzzard. Jerry Butler, Arkansas Online, 31 Oct. 2022 If there are fewer small mammals, there is less food for their natural predators, such as red foxes, steppe polecats, upland buzzards, brown bears and mountain weasels. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 24 May 2023 After the stylist initially refused Spears’ request, the singer grabbed a nearby electric razor and began shaving her head herself while a horde of paparazzi circled the salon like buzzards, snapping photos of the singer inside. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 8 May 2023 Like buzzards and vultures, condors are scavengers—aka nature’s clean-up crew—that feast on the remains of dead animals. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English busard, from Old French, alteration of buison, from Latin buteon, buteo hawk

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of buzzard was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near buzzard

Cite this Entry

“Buzzard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


buz·​zard ˈbəz-ərd How to pronounce buzzard (audio)
: any of various usually large slow-flying birds of prey compare turkey vulture

More from Merriam-Webster on buzzard

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!