white feather

noun

Definition of white feather

: a mark or symbol of cowardice used chiefly in the phrase show the white feather

Examples of white feather in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Their beaks and feet are bright red, and their bodies are covered in gray and white feathers with a cap of black feathers on their heads. Joel Sartore, National Geographic, "Arctic tern," 25 Feb. 2020 Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Covered in crystals and finished with a white feathered skirt, the homage became on of the most-talked-about turns of the night. Maria Ward, Vogue, "The Most Elaborate Trains in Met Gala Red Carpet History: Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker, and More," 23 Apr. 2019 In the mid-morning sunlight, two bright yellow eyes stare forward, unblinking, framed by a brown and white feathered head that suddenly twitches in a cartoonish jolt, the eyes now appearing to be stacked on one another. Erin Stone, azcentral, "Burrowing owls are losing their habitat to growth, but there's hope for the quirky bird," 24 Mar. 2020 Turns out this most savage beast was covered with — believe it! — a soft coat of beige or white feathers. New York Times, "23 Art Exhibitions to View in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 5 Mar. 2020 Magellanic penguins also have a stretch of white feathers that swoops down from each eye, joining to form a strap around the neck. National Geographic, "Magellanic penguin," 8 Feb. 2020 To match her white feathered gown, Hudgens wore her hair parted to the side with long waves down her back. Audrey Noble, Allure, "Vanessa Hudgens Goes Old-Hollywood Glam at the Bad Boys For Life Premiere," 15 Jan. 2020 One seller, fernandthefawn, has a hanging wreath of white feathers with a leather strap for $62. Washington Post, "Give the gift of winter white this holiday season," 21 Nov. 2019

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

circa 1785, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for white feather

from the superstition that a white feather in the plumage of a gamecock is a mark of a poor fighter

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about white feather

Time Traveler for white feather

Time Traveler

The first known use of white feather was circa 1785

See more words from the same year

Statistics for white feather

Cite this Entry

“White feather.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white%20feather. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

Comments on white feather

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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