"And there ben manye Popegayes that thei clepen Psitakes in hire Langage."

- The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Chapter XXX


"Popegay" is an archaic word for a parrot. The word was originally applied to certain species of green woodpeckers. The "pope" comes from the sound of their pecking, or perhaps their call, while the "gay" is derived from the Latin word "gallus," meaning "cock" or "bird." The word is an etymological cognate of words for "parrot" in several other European languages, including papagei (German), papegaai (Dutch), and papagallo (Spanish).

In medieval times, the term was haphazardly applied to any exotic bird, and was also spelled "papagay," "papegay," "papajay," and "popinjay."


"When Parrot is ded, she dothe not putrefy;
Ye, all thyng mortall shall torne unto nought,
Except mannes soule, that Chryst so dere bought,
That never may dye, nor never dye shall,
Make moche of the Parrot, the popegay ryall."

- John Skelton, "Speke, Parrot"

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