jail·​bird ˈjāl-ˌbərd How to pronounce jailbird (audio)
: a person confined in jail
especially : a habitual criminal

Examples of jailbird in a Sentence

had spent most of his sorry life as a jailbird in hoosegows across the South
Recent Examples on the Web Twenty years later, an actress named Selma Vaz Dias, who wanted to dramatize Good Morning, Midnight on the radio, found her living in poverty and obscurity in the English countryside with a third husband who also ended an embezzler and a jailbird. Vivian Gornick, The New Republic, 6 Jan. 2023 The jailbird and guard stayed in touch over the phone, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, 11 May 2022 Rick Flag, who attempts to keep our jailbird antiheroes in line. Clark Collis, EW.com, 22 June 2021

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

Word History

First Known Use

1603, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of jailbird was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near jailbird

Cite this Entry

“Jailbird.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jailbird. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


jail·​bird -ˌbərd How to pronounce jailbird (audio)
: a person who is or is often in jail
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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