\ ˈgrēb How to pronounce grebe (audio) \

Definition of grebe

: any of a family (Podicipedidae) of swimming and diving birds closely related to the loons but having lobed toes — compare dabchick

Illustration of grebe

Illustration of grebe

Examples of grebe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Back at the harbor, another small waterbird — an eared grebe — was released alongside the ruddy duck Wednesday. Robin Estrin, Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2021 But two lucky birds, a ruddy duck and an eared grebe, were released Wednesday after going through rehabilitation at the edge of Huntington Harbour. Alejandra Reyes-velarde Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 Oct. 2021 Reports featured a red-necked grebe in Gardner, four continuing sandhill cranes in Hardwick, two dickcissels in Uxbridge, and two Connecticut warblers at the Westborough Wildlife Area in Westborough., 18 Sep. 2021 South Shore: Reports included an eared grebe and a king eider in Hull., 17 Apr. 2021 Birders will appreciate the flocks of waterfowl, migrating shorebirds, mallards, grebes, swallows and more. Katie Pesznecker, Anchorage Daily News, 30 May 2020 Spotted salamanders breed here and night herons roost, alongside coots and grebes. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 13 May 2020 Disgust at their grisly trade, which was eradicating millions of birds a year to meet Americans’ demand for feathery swank, surged in her like a ball of regurgitated feathers and crustaceans from a grebe’s crop. The Economist, 20 Feb. 2020 On Plum Island, there were 16 Northern shovelers, eight red-grebes, two rough-legged hawks, and a yellow-breasted chat., 23 Dec. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grebe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of grebe

1766, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grebe

borrowed from French grèbe, going back to Middle French grebe, griaibe, a name for the bird in Franco-Provençal of Savoy, of obscure origin

Note: The noun grebe was apparently introduced into ornithological literature by Conrad gesner in Historiæ Animalium Liber III. qui est de avium natura (Zürich, 1555), p. 563: "Gavia cinerea, quæ ad flumina & lacus ascendit …Hæc Italice circa Comum galedor uocatur, circa Verbanum lacum et alibi galetra, Gallis gauian uel mouette, uel glaumet, Sabaudis grebe, uel griaibe, uel beque, uel heyron, quamuis ardeæ potius id nomen conueniat." ("An ash-gray seabird, which goes up to the rivers and lakes …This [bird] is called in Italian galedor around Como, galetra around Lake Maggiore and elsewhere; [it is called] by the French gavian or mouette or glaumet, and by the Savoyards grebe or griaibe or beque or heyron, this [last] name applying rather to the heron.") Exactly the same names were reproduced in French two years later, without crediting Gesner, by the traveler and naturalist Pierre Belon (1524-64) in Portraits d'oyseaux, animaux, serpens, herbes, arbres, hommes et femmes, d'Arabie et Egypte (Paris, 1557), p. 35: "francois, Mouëtte cendrée, Gauian, Glammet [sic]. En Sauoye elle est nommée Grebe, ou Griaibe, Begue, Heyron." The bird described and illustrated by both Gesner and Belon, however, is unmistakably a seagull, probably the common gull Larus canus. Later attestations show that Gesner recorded the name more or less accurately, but assigned it to the wrong bird. The word was applied correctly in the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d'Alembert, in the article grebe (vol. 7 [1757], p. 903), presumably by the naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton; this text may have been the basis for the use of the word in English. Forms of grèbe in the Franco-Provençal of Switzerland are recorded in the Glossaire des patois de la Suisse Romande (vol. 8, p. 707). Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (vol. 21, p. 246) also gives forms of the word in Lyon (grèpe) and Haut-Dauphiné (glẹ̄be), as well as an apparently isolated word guerbe meaning "loon" in the French dialect of Bessin, Normandy. Efforts to etymologize the Franco-Provençal word are speculative. The Glossaire suggests a possible relationship with dialectal grẹ́bo "of more than one color, variegated," itself of obscure origin.

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greaved tortoise



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Cite this Entry

“Grebe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for grebe


\ ˈgrēb How to pronounce grebe (audio) \

Kids Definition of grebe

: a swimming and diving bird related to the loon

More from Merriam-Webster on grebe

Nglish: Translation of grebe for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about grebe


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