os·​prey | \ˈä-sprē, -ˌsprā \
plural ospreys

Definition of osprey 

1 : a large fish-eating hawk (Pandion haliaetus) with long wings that is dark brown above and mostly pure white below

2 : a feather trimming used for millinery

Illustration of osprey

Illustration of osprey

osprey 1

Examples of osprey in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

According to the Fish and Wildlife site, ospreys are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "Osprey nest at a construction crane finds a new home," 7 June 2018 The osprey had picked a fairly tough spot for a home — a construction crane at a complex in the Wharf area of Southwest Washington’s waterfront. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "Osprey nest at a construction crane finds a new home," 7 June 2018 The island has clams, osprey and golden forsythia foaming like champagne in the spring, but lacks a hospital, a movie theater and home mail delivery. Julie Lasky, New York Times, "Shelter Island, N.Y.: A Paradise That Has Its Challenges," 16 May 2018 Overhead, a pair of osprey circled in the mist, searching for breakfast. Michael Gordon, charlotteobserver, "Here's what Charlotte can expect from Alberto," 28 May 2018 West Marin locals even went so far as to mint their own currency — gold $3 coins, embossed with an osprey on one side and a lighthouse on the other — which is sometimes accepted around town. San Francisco Chronicle, "One Day, One Place: Bolinas and Stinson Beach," 17 May 2018 The balloon in the osprey’s nest was mostly shredded, but the ribbon was tangled on the three-week-old bird’s legs. Frank Kummer, Philly.com, "Think before releasing balloons: Osprey tangled 35-feet up rescued at Shore," 21 June 2018 Complicating the state’s problems is that two of the largest predatory birds that regularly raid the hatcheries are bald eagles and ospreys: protected species that can’t be shot under state and federal regulations and laws. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Hatcheries Try Guns, Nets, Noise To Protect Fish From Invading Birds," 21 May 2018 In 2009, there was another situation in the Anacostia area involving ospreys and a nest, according to Rauch. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "Osprey nest at a construction crane finds a new home," 7 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of osprey

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for osprey

Middle English ospray, from Anglo-French *osfraie, from Latin ossifraga, a bird of prey

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about osprey

Dictionary Entries near osprey







Ossa, Mount

Statistics for osprey

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for osprey

The first known use of osprey was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for osprey



English Language Learners Definition of osprey

: a large bird that eats fish


os·​prey | \ˈäs-prē \
plural ospreys

Kids Definition of osprey

: a large hawk that feeds chiefly on fish

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on osprey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with osprey

Spanish Central: Translation of osprey

Nglish: Translation of osprey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about osprey

Comments on osprey

What made you want to look up osprey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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