Spar"row (?), n. [OE. sparwe, AS. spearwa; akin to OHG. sparo, G. sperling, Icel. sporr, Dan. spurv, spurre, Sw. sparf, Goth. sparwa; -- originally, probably, the quiverer or flutterer, and akin to E. spurn. See Spurn, and cf. Spavin.]
One of many species of small singing birds of the family Fringilligae, having conical bills, and feeding chiefly on seeds. Many sparrows are called also finches, and buntings. The common sparrow, or house sparrow, of Europe (Passer domesticus) is noted for its familiarity, its voracity, its attachment to its young, and its fecundity. See House sparrow, under House.
⇒ The following American species are well known; the chipping sparrow, or chippy, the sage sparrow, the savanna sparrow, the song sparrow, the tree sparrow, and the white-throated sparrow (see Peabody bird). See these terms under Sage, Savanna, etc.
Any one of several small singing birds somewhat resembling the true sparrows in form or habits, as the European hedge sparrow. See under Hedge.
He that doth the ravens feed,
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,
Be comfort to my age!
Field sparrow, Fox sparrow, etc. See under Field, Fox, etc. -- Sparrow bill, a small nail; a castiron shoe nail; a sparable. -- Sparrow hawk. Zool. (a) A small European hawk (Accipiter nisus) or any of the allied species. (b) A small American falcon (Falco sparverius). (c) The Australian collared sparrow hawk (Accipiter torquatus). The name is applied to other small hawks, as the European kestrel and the New Zealand quail hawk. -- Sparrow owl Zool., a small owl (Glaucidium passerinum) found both in the Old World and the New. The name is also applied to other species of small owls. -- Sparrow spear Zool., the female of the reed bunting. [Prov. Eng.]
© Webster 1913.