Secretary bird
Secretary Sec"re*ta*ry, n.; pl. {Secretaries}. [F. secr['e]taire (cf. Pr. secretari, Sp. & Pg. secretario, It. secretario, segretario) LL. secretarius, originally, a confidant, one intrusted with secrets, from L. secretum a secret. See {Secret}, a. & n.] 1. One who keeps, or is intrusted with, secrets. [R.] [1913 Webster]

2. A person employed to write orders, letters, dispatches, public or private papers, records, and the like; an official scribe, amanuensis, or writer; one who attends to correspondence, and transacts other business, for an association, a public body, or an individual. [1913 Webster]

That which is most of all profitable is acquaintance with the secretaries, and employed men of ambassadors. --Bacon. [1913 Webster]

3. An officer of state whose business is to superintend and manage the affairs of a particular department of government, and who is usually a member of the cabinet or advisory council of the chief executive; as, the secretary of state, who conducts the correspondence and attends to the relations of a government with foreign courts; the secretary of the treasury, who manages the department of finance; the secretary of war, etc. [1913 Webster]

4. A piece of furniture, with conveniences for writing and for the arrangement of papers; an escritoire. [1913 Webster]

5. (Zo["o]l.) The secretary bird. [1913 Webster]

{Secretary bird}. [So called in allusion to the tufts of feathers at the back of its head, which were fancifully thought to resemble pens stuck behind the ear.] (Zo["o]l.) A large long-legged raptorial bird ({Gypogeranus serpentarius}), native of South Africa, but now naturalized in the West Indies and some other tropical countries. It has a powerful hooked beak, a crest of long feathers, and a long tail. It feeds upon reptiles of various kinds, and is much prized on account of its habit of killing and devouring snakes of all kinds. Called also {serpent eater}. [1913 Webster]

Syn: See the Note under {Clerk}, n., 4. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • secretary bird — ► NOUN ▪ a slender long legged African bird of prey that feeds on snakes, having a crest likened to a quill pen stuck behind the ear …   English terms dictionary

  • secretary bird — n. [from the penlike feathers of its crest] a large, black and grayish blue African bird of prey (Sagittarius serpentarius), the only species in its family (Sagittariidae), with a long neck, long legs, and tufts of penlike feathers sticking out… …   English World dictionary

  • Secretary Bird — Taxobox name = Secretary Bird status = LC | status system = IUCN3.1 status ref =IUCN2006|assessors=BirdLife International|year=2004|id=49471|title=Sagittarius serpentarius|downloaded=8 May 2006 (database entry includes justification for least… …   Wikipedia

  • secretary bird — a large, long legged, raptorial bird, Sagittarius serpentarius, of Africa, that feeds on reptiles. [1790 1800; < F secrétaire, perh. by folk etym. < Sudanese Ar sagr al ter, equiv. to sagr hawk + al the + ter birds (collective)] * * * African… …   Universalium

  • secretary bird — noun large long legged African bird of prey that feeds on reptiles • Syn: ↑Sagittarius serpentarius • Hypernyms: ↑bird of prey, ↑raptor, ↑raptorial bird • Member Holonyms: ↑Sagittarius, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • secretary bird — sec′retary bird n. orn a large, long legged bird of prey, Sagittarius serpentarius, of Africa, that feeds on reptiles • Etymology: 1790–1800; < F secrétaire, perh. by folk etym. < Sudanese Ar ṣagr al ṭēr …   From formal English to slang

  • secretary bird — noun Etymology: probably from the resemblance of its crest to a bunch of quill pens stuck behind the ear Date: 1824 a large long legged bird of prey (Sagittarius serpentarius of the family Sagittariidae) of sub Saharan Africa that feeds largely… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • secretary bird — noun /ˈsɛkɹə,tɛɹɪ bɜːd/lang= A large bird of prey, Sagittarius serpentarius, native to Africa with very long legs, so named because of its crest of long feathers resembling quill pens stuck behind the ears of an office clerk. It preys on reptiles …   Wiktionary

  • secretary bird — n. large African bird of prey with long legs that eats mainly reptiles …   English contemporary dictionary

  • secretary bird — noun a slender long legged African bird of prey that feeds on snakes, having a crest likened to a quill pen stuck behind the ear. [Sagittarius serpentarius.] …   English new terms dictionary

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