killdeer

noun

kill·​deer ˈkil-ˌdir How to pronounce killdeer (audio)
plural killdeers or killdeer
: an American plover (Charadrius vociferus) characterized by two black breast bands and a plaintive penetrating cry

Illustration of killdeer

Illustration of killdeer

Did you know?

This attractive dark-eyed bird has a loud, rather sad cry that to some people sounds like “Kill deer! Kill deer!” Killdeers are not vicious birds. They have no special hatred of deer, and they do not eat venison. The killdeer is simply an animal that got its name from human interpretation of its call.

Examples of killdeer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ibises and killdeers waded in the pond, but the ducks wouldn’t stop. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 30 Aug. 2023 Native killdeer returned to nest a week after construction was completed. William McDonough, Scientific American, 1 July 2017 The killdeer couldn’t. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 8 June 2012 The bird, a killdeer, had made its ground nest in a high traffic area. Bill Jones, Chicago Tribune, 9 June 2022 Urso, who was carrying a bird book, showed Mrvan a photo of a killdeer. Alexandra Kukulka, chicagotribune.com, 19 Aug. 2021 Those killdeer eggs, however, completely exposed on the gravel of a shoreline or your driveway, are heavily speckled with dark markings. Jim Williams, Star Tribune, 27 Apr. 2021 But perhaps this particular killdeer and its mate were just hoping to take in a performance by Ghostface Killah. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, 28 June 2018 At the ballfields a pair of killdeer occupied the same area that seems to attract them each year. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, 9 Mar. 2018 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

imitative

First Known Use

1731, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of killdeer was in 1731

Dictionary Entries Near killdeer

Cite this Entry

“Killdeer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/killdeer. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

killdeer

noun
kill·​deer ˈkil-ˌdi(ə)r How to pronounce killdeer (audio)
plural killdeers or killdeer
: a North American plover that has two black bands on its breast and a distinctive high-pitched loud cry
Etymology

imitation

Word Origin
Killdeers are not vicious birds. They have no special hatred of deer, and they do not eat venison. This attractive, dark-eyed bird has a loud, rather sad cry that to some people sounds like "Kill deer! Kill deer!" So the killdeer is an animal that got its name from human interpretation of its call.

More from Merriam-Webster on killdeer

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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