Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Stormy Petrel

The following is from WordaDay, to which I subscribe, and which often delights me with words and meanings I have never known. Today’s is so particularly good, I will share this website again. You can see it on my blogroll to the right, and you can subscribe also by copying and pasting the address from the e-mail below.

Starts here:

Birds get little respect. We tend to look down at non-human animals in
general, but we are particularly unfair when it comes to birds (although
we have to look up at them).

We call a stupid fellow a “bird brain”. Australians call him a galah
(a type of cockatoo). Something useless is said to be “for the birds”. We
name someone vain and self-conscious a peacock. One who is talkative or a
hoarder is labeled a magpie. A cowardly or fearful fellow is a chicken…
the list is endless.

We even kill two birds with one stone. I’d rather the idiom be to feed two
birds with one grain.

This week we feature five terms coined after birds. Catch as many of these
bird words as you can. After all, a word in the head is worth two in the book.

stormy petrel (STOR-mee PE-truhl) noun

1. Any of various small sea birds of the family Hydrobatidae
having dark feathers and lighter underparts, also known as
Mother Carey’s Chicken.

2. One who brings trouble or whose appearance is a sign of coming trouble.

[The birds got the name storm petrel or stormy petrel because old-time
sailors believed their appearance foreshadowed a storm.

It’s not certain why the bird is named petrel. One unsubstantiated theory
is that it is named after St Peter who walked on water in the Gospel of
Matthew. The petrel’s habit of flying low over water with legs extended
gives the appearance that it’s walking on the water.]

Today’s word in Visual Thesaurus:

-Anu Garg (words at

“A colourful stormy petrel of the Conservative Party, Anthony
Beaumont-Dark frequently found himself at odds with the party
line in the Commons, and was well known for expressing his dissent
in memorably quotable form.”
Obituary: Sir Anthony Beaumont-Dark; The Times (London, UK); Apr 4, 2006.

In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be
educated. -Margaret Halsey, novelist (1910-1997)

Discuss this week’s words on our bulletin board:

Remove, change address, gift subs:



May 7, 2007 - Posted by | Communication, Cross Cultural, Language, Words

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