passenger pigeon


: an extinct but formerly abundant North American migratory pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)

Illustration of passenger pigeon

Illustration of passenger pigeon

Examples of passenger pigeon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Using the passenger pigeon as a thought experiment, another paper in the same issue looks at the fears and excitement of leaders in the field of genomics. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2013 The most vivid accounts of squirrel irruptions date to a time when old growth forests had yet to be logged, when bison roamed the West and flocks of passenger pigeons darkened the skies. John Kelly, Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2023 Of course, there is a sizable camp of thylacine enthusiasts who believe that the animals never really went the way of the passenger pigeon and dodo, and instead live on in areas of mainland Australia, action planning and decision making blissfully unmolested by humans. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 18 Jan. 2017 From present-day specimens like alligators to extinct passenger pigeons and endangered species like ocelots, this exhibit is truly unique to the Lone Star State. Vicki Salemi, Chron, 18 Mar. 2023 The passenger pigeon was once common, too. Brian Amaral,, 31 Jan. 2023 The Flying Martha, for example, is a windup flying bird, or ornithopter, that can also be used as a kite and was designed to match the exact dimensions of the passenger pigeon, a once endemic species in North America that was hunted to extinction by 1914. New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 This story, from trillions to none, is a lot like that of the passenger pigeon, which also disappeared in the early twentieth century. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 13 Mar. 2023 What this means in the present is that over 1000 species have gone extinct in the past 150 years – species like the dodo bird, the passenger pigeon, and the Thylacine, the world’s only marsupial wolf. The Intersection, Discover Magazine, 27 Jan. 2011 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'passenger pigeon.' 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

1772, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of passenger pigeon was in 1772

Dictionary Entries Near passenger pigeon

Cite this Entry

“Passenger pigeon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

passenger pigeon

: an extinct but formerly very common North American pigeon that migrated long distances

More from Merriam-Webster on passenger pigeon

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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