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fowl definition


This page has 6 definitions of fowl in English and Middle English. Fowl is a noun, verb and adjective. Examples of how to use fowl in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English fowl definition

Etymology 1

From Middle English foul, foghel, fowel, fowele, from Old English fugol (bird), from Proto-West Germanic *fugl, from Proto-Germanic *fuglaz, dissimilated variant of *fluglaz (compare Old English flugol ‘fleeing’, Mercian fluglas heofun ‘birds of the air’),[1] from *fleuganą (to fly). Cognate with West Frisian fûgel, Low German Vagel, Dutch vogel, German Vogel, Swedish fågel, Danish and Norwegian fugl. Doublet of voël. More at fly.



fowl (plural fowl or fowls)

  1. (archaic) A bird.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter XIX, in Le Morte Darthur, book XIII:
      And now I take vpon me the aduentures of holy thynges / & now I see and vnderstande that myn old synne hyndereth me and shameth me / so that I had no power to stere nor speke whan the holy blood appiered afore me / So thus he sorowed til hit was day / & herd the fowles synge / thenne somwhat he was comforted
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)
  2. A bird of the order Galliformes, including chickens, turkeys, pheasant, partridges and quail.
  3. Birds which are hunted or kept for food, including Galliformes and also waterfowl of the order Anseriformes such as ducks, geese and swans, together forming the clade Galloanserae.
Derived terms
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fowl (third-person singular simple present fowls, present participle fowling, simple past and past participle fowled)

  1. To hunt fowl.
    We took our guns and went fowling.
Derived terms


  1. ^ C.T. Onions, ed., Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, s.v. "fowl" (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996), 374.

Etymology 2


fowl (comparative fowler, superlative fowlest)

  1. (obsolete) foul
    • Paradise Lost, John Milton
      Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view / Nor the deep Tract of Hell, say first what cause / Mov'd our Grand Parents in that happy State / Favour'd of Heav'n so highly, to fall off / From their Creator, and transgress his Will / For one restraint, Lords of the World besides? / Who first seduc'd them to that fowl revolt?



Middle English fowl definition


fowl (plural fowles)

  1. Alternative form of fowel
    And smale fowles maken melodye
    That slepen all the night with open ye - Chaucer, General Prologue, Canterbury Tales, ll.9-10