os·​trich | \ˈä-strich, ˈȯ- also -strij\

Definition of ostrich 

1a : a swift-footed 2-toed flightless ratite bird (Struthio camelus) of Africa that is the largest of existing birds and often weighs 300 pounds (140 kilograms)

b : rhea

c : leather made from ostrich skin

2 [ from the belief that the ostrich when pursued hides its head in the sand and believes itself to be unseen ] : one who attempts to avoid danger or difficulty by refusing to face it

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ostrich

ostrichlike \ˈä-​strich-​ˌlīk, ˈȯ-​ also -​strij-​ \ adjective

Examples of ostrich in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Activists who for years have thrown paint on celebrities’ fur coats and protested next to the catwalks are setting their sights on skins made from crocodile, alligator, snake and ostrich. Matthew Dalton, WSJ, "Fashion Labels Scramble to Shed Their Skins," 19 July 2018 Residents have raised cattle, horses, ostriches and other animals, and Indians gathered acorns and traded seashells with tribes to the east. Roger Showley, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Jamul-Rancho San Diego: Historic rancho served as seashell trading post, hosts new casino," 22 June 2018 Past the odd acacia tree and lone ostrich and pair of giraffes in the distance, rising from the ground like elegant, blinking sculptures. Rachel Levin, WSJ, "The Toughest Half-Marathon You’ll Want to Plan a Trip Around," 3 July 2018 Turkeys, ostriches, and eagles are not really that different in their looks or behaviors than extinct dinosaurs such as Velociraptor. National Geographic, "Could Humans and Dinosaurs Coexist? Here's the Science.," 22 June 2018 The cape includes white ribbons on both shoulders, a large gold tasseled rope connecting both sides, and—the best part—a black velvet hat with an oversized ostrich feather, according to People. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William's Super Ornate Outfit in Scotland Is Full of Royal Symbolism," 6 July 2018 The most high profile is Etosha National Park, home to around 500 lions, or half the country’s population, as well as birds like ostriches and vultures, elephants, and, of course, cheetahs. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Places to Visit in August," 27 June 2018 At more than three pounds, a single ostrich egg weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs. National Geographic, "The Biggest Bird That Ever Lived and 5 More Bird Superstars," 15 May 2018 Tiny hovering hummingbirds, enormous albatrosses, ground-dwelling ostriches, seafaring penguins and every feathered creature in between owe their existence to those birds that made it through that extinction event. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs also shaped the evolution of birds," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ostrich.' 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 ostrich

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ostrich

Middle English, from Anglo-French ostriz, ostrige, from Vulgar Latin *avis struthio, from Latin avis bird + Late Latin struthio ostrich — more at struthious

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ostrich

Statistics for ostrich

Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ostrich

The first known use of ostrich was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ostrich



English Language Learners Definition of ostrich

: a very large African bird that runs very fast but cannot fly


os·​trich | \ˈä-strich \

Kids Definition of ostrich

: a very large bird of Africa that often weighs as much as 300 pounds (140 kilograms) and runs very fast but cannot fly

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ostrich

Spanish Central: Translation of ostrich

Nglish: Translation of ostrich for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ostrich for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ostrich

Comments on ostrich

What made you want to look up ostrich? 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?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!