wood·​cock ˈwu̇d-ˌkäk How to pronounce woodcock (audio)
plural woodcocks
or plural woodcock
: a shorebird (Scolopax rusticola) of Europe and Asia that frequents moist woodlands, has large eyes and rounded wings, is of a variously mottled reddish-brown, black, and buff color with a barred chest, and is often hunted as game

Note: The woodcock has a long bill with a sensitive tip used especially for probing the ground for earthworms and insects.

: a smaller related bird (Scolopax minor synonym Philohela minor) chiefly of eastern North America with a similar color pattern but having a solid orange buff chest
[from the ease with which the woodcock is snared] archaic : simpleton

Examples of woodcock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Other events throughout the day include kid-friendly Easter stories, live birds of prey, a bluebird box workshop and an American woodcock sky dance. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 21 Mar. 2024 In the spring, areas around the younger trees drew ground nesters like bobolinks — songbirds that migrate to and from South America — killdeer and woodcocks, who availed themselves of the open spaces to perform their courtship flights and rear their young. Cara Buckley, New York Times, 13 Dec. 2023 Overview The woodcock is a shorebird without a shore. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, 18 Oct. 2023 By morning, carcasses ranging from Tennessee warblers to hermit thrush to American woodcocks littered the ground outside the convention center. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Oct. 2023 The woodcock, also known as the timberdoodle, can be spotted on the ground beneath shrubbery, doing a groovy little dance. Dodai Stewart, New York Times, 6 June 2023 In the spring and the fall, the American woodcock often makes an appearance. Dodai Stewart, New York Times, 6 June 2023 An American woodcock was spotted in a small park surrounded by Manhattan skyscrapers. Shira Ovide, Washington Post, 9 May 2023 Recent bird sightings reported to Mass Audubon: A number of American woodcocks have been observed calling at dusk in open fields near swampy woods, thanks to the mild weather. Camilo Fonseca, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Feb. 2023

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of woodcock was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near woodcock

Cite this Entry

“Woodcock.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woodcock. Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


wood·​cock -ˌkäk How to pronounce woodcock (audio)
plural woodcocks or woodcock
: a brownish woodland game bird that has a long bill and is related to the snipes
also : a related and similar bird of Eurasia

More from Merriam-Webster on woodcock

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