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noun (1)

: a predominantly fawn-colored Old World bird (Garrulus glandarius) of the crow family with a black-and-white crest and wings marked with black, white, and blue
: any of various usually crested and largely blue chiefly New World birds that are related to the common Old World jay and have roving habits and harsh voices compare blue jay
: an impertinent chatterer
: a moderate blue


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noun (2)

: the letter j

Examples of jay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Other experiments have shown that members of the corvid family, which includes crows, jays, and magpies, can read one another’s intentions, plan for the future, and solve puzzles using abstract reasoning and tools. Ben Crair, The New Yorker, 5 Mar. 2024 These jays are intelligent and are known to slip through treetops to rob nests of other birds. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 4 Mar. 2024 Scrub jays, which are endemic, or unique, to Florida, aren’t the only rare wildlife at Duette. Ryan Ballogg, Miami Herald, 29 Feb. 2024 Environmentalists also worry that the loss and degradation of pinyon-juniper woodlands will pose a significant threat to a number of animal species, including the bright blue pinyon jay, which is under consideration for listing as a federally endangered species. Louis Sahagún, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The blue jay, on the other hand, blows into town like a Wild West gunslinger entering a saloon – everybody scatters. Robert Klose, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Mar. 2023 While this tale is thousands of years old, animal behaviorists still use this challenge to study corvids (which include crows, ravens, jays, and magpies) and their use of tools. Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, Ars Technica, 14 Dec. 2023 The Canada jay is mainly found in Canada, with a small percentage of the species in Alaska and the western mountains of the U.S., per Canadian Geographic. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 5 Dec. 2023 It’s packed with seeds that birds can’t resist—including safflower, nyjer, sunflower, red millet, and peanuts—and it’s designed to attract a variety of birds including cardinals, jays, finches, nuthatches, grosbeaks, chickadees and more. Moriah Mason, Southern Living, 31 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jay.' 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, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin gaius

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

1818, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near jay

Cite this Entry

“Jay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jay. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: any of several noisy birds that are related to the crow but are smaller and usually more brightly colored

Biographical Definition


biographical name

John 1745–1829 American jurist and statesman; 1st chief justice U.S. Supreme Court (1789–95)

More from Merriam-Webster on jay

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