wood·​cock | \ ˈwu̇d-ˌkäk How to pronounce woodcock (audio) \
plural woodcocks

Definition of woodcock

1 or plural woodcock
a : 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.

b : 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
2 [from the ease with which the woodcock is snared] archaic : simpleton

Examples of woodcock in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even woodcocks, drawn to flower beds and patches of grass and trees, can suffer the same fate. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Lights Out Cleveland group stands up for birds by turning down the lights," 30 Aug. 2019 American woodcocks also tend to wind up in residential yards this time of year. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Keep an eye out for birds in odd places as migrants arrive | Charlotte Observer," 20 Apr. 2018 My chosen goal was to look for displaying American woodcock in an overgrown field off Rocky River Church Road in eastern Mecklenburg County. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "The American woodcock’s courtship display is worth watching | Charlotte Observer," 26 Jan. 2018 This restoration has also improved habitat for virtually all game species, including woodcock, deer and turkey. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's backyard beauty: Conserving one of the 'last great places on Earth'," 26 Feb. 2018 Hunters can pursue game birds such as ring-necked pheasants, ruffed grouse and American woodcock in guided ‘put-and-take’ style outings, Butz told the Traverse City Record-Eagle . Patti Brandt Burgess, The Seattle Times, "Michigan farmer to open new game bird preserve," 13 Jan. 2018 At 6:53 two American woodcocks lifted off close by, identified by the characteristic whistling sound from their wings. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Some uncommon birds spotted in Christmas count | Charlotte Observer," 22 Dec. 2017 The eastern third of the state usually holds a surprisingly robust wintering population of woodcock. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Wingshooters have pick of what to target in mid-December," 13 Dec. 2017 The recruitment ratio was 0.5125; 75% of woodcock taken were adults, 25% were juveniles. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: National hunt takes pulse of ruffed grouse, woodcock populations," 27 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'woodcock.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of woodcock

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

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Time Traveler for woodcock

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

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Cite this Entry

“Woodcock.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woodcocks. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for woodcock


How to pronounce woodcock (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of woodcock

: a brown bird that has a short neck and long bill and that is often hunted


wood·​cock | \ ˈwu̇d-ˌkäk How to pronounce woodcock (audio) \

Kids Definition of woodcock

: a brownish bird that has a long bill and feeds chiefly on earthworms

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More from Merriam-Webster on woodcock

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with woodcock

Nglish: Translation of woodcock for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about woodcock

Comments on woodcock

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to state or do over again or repeatedly

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