to·​whee | \ ˈtō-ˌhē How to pronounce towhee (audio) , ˈtō-(ˌ)ē, tō-ˈhē \

Definition of towhee

1 : a long-tailed passerine bird (Pipilo erythrophthalmus of the family Emberizidae) of eastern North America with the male having reddish sides, white underparts, and black upperparts, head, and neck

called also chewink

2 : any various similar related birds (genera Pipilo and Melozone) found mainly in western North America

Note: Towhees live primarily on the ground, often in bushes and thickets, where they feed on insects and seeds.

Examples of towhee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In such gardens, expect to see wood thrushes and eastern towhees. Washington Post, "Bird populations have crashed. Here’s what you can do to help.," 16 Oct. 2019 Reports from Crane WMA in Falmouth included 2 American kestrels, 9 Eastern phoebes, 2 grasshopper sparrows, 18 Eastern towhees, 2 bobolink, 4 Eastern meadowlarks, a dickcissel, and 2 blue grosbeaks., "Recent bird sightings on Cape Cod (as of Sept. 3) as reported to the Massachusetts Audubon Society.," 11 Sep. 2019 The dawn chorus on Camp Stewart Road is mostly Northern cardinals, American robins, Carolina wrens and Eastern towhees. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Breeding Bird Survey yields 56 species over 25-mile route," 20 June 2018 Summer species include Northern bobwhite, black-chinned hummingbird and spotted towhee. Houston Chronicle, "Top birding spots around Texas," 10 May 2018 The short, river-hugging trail leads you beneath tall oaks; birds to be seen include towhee and mockingbird. Peter Fish, San Francisco Chronicle, "The 5 best hikes in Napa for wine lovers," 21 Feb. 2018 Northern mockingbirds have started singing in earnest, along with Eastern towhees. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Watch for the annual visit by red-winged blackbirds | Charlotte Observer," 16 Feb. 2018 And finally, long after my wife believed he was lost forever, appeared the towhee, and his little mate. Southern Living, "Love Song," 15 Mar. 2012 And finally, long after my wife believed he was lost forever, appeared the towhee, and his little mate. Southern Living, "Love Song," 15 Mar. 2012

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

circa 1729, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for towhee


Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about towhee

Time Traveler for towhee

Time Traveler

The first known use of towhee was circa 1729

See more words from the same year

Statistics for towhee

Last Updated

20 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Towhee.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on towhee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with towhee Encyclopedia article about towhee

Comments on towhee

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


delight or enjoyment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!