Definition of eyas
: an unfledged bird; specifically : a nestling hawk
eyas was our Word of the Day on 03/18/2009. Hear the podcast!
Eyas Originated as a Linguistic Mistake
Eyas is a funny-sounding word that exists because of a mistake. In the 15th century, Middle English speakers made an incorrect assumption about the word neias, which comes from the Anglo-French niais ("fresh from the nest"). "A neias" sounded like "an eias" to their ears, so the word lost that initial "n," eventually becoming "eyas." (There are other words in English that were created in this same fashion; for example, "an apron" used to be "a napron.") The change in spelling may have been suggested by other Middle English words like "ey" ("egg") and "eyry," which was a spelling of "aerie," the hawk's nest where an eyas would be found.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up eyas? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).