from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A light framework covered with cloth, plastic, or paper, designed to be flown in the wind at the end of a long string or multiple lines, especially for recreation.
  • noun A parafoil flown in a similar manner for recreation.
  • noun A power kite.
  • noun A quadrilateral with two distinct pairs of congruent, adjacent sides.
  • noun Any of the light sails of a ship that are used only in a light wind.
  • noun Any of various graceful predatory birds of the family Accipitridae, having long pointed wings and often a forked tail.
  • noun An instance of check kiting.
  • intransitive verb To fly like a kite; soar or glide.
  • intransitive verb To get money or credit with a kite.
  • intransitive verb To use (a check) in furtherance of a check kiting scheme.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A diurnal bird of prey of the family Falconidæ and subfamily Milvinæ; a glede.
  • noun A sharper.
  • noun [Prob. so called from its hovering in the air, like the bird so named.] A light frame, usually of wood and covered with paper, constructed for flying in the air by means of a long cord attached.
  • noun Nautical, one of the highest and lightest sails; one of the small sails that are usually spread in light winds, and furled in a strong breeze.
  • noun The brill. [Local, Eng.]
  • noun A variety of tumbler, black, with the inner webs of the primaries red or yellow.
  • noun Something thrown out as a suggestion to see ‘how the wind blows’—what the condition of public opinion is on a certain subject, or what conclusions may inferentially be drawn.
  • noun In geometry, a deltoid: so called by Sylvester from its resemblance to a spear-kite.
  • noun The belly.
  • A dialectal variant of kit for cut.
  • To fly a bird-shaped kite over a grouse moor: an English sporting-term. The birds, taking this for a hawk, lie close, until the dogs are near.
  • To go or fly with great rapidity or with the ease of a kite: as, to go kiting about.
  • To fly commercial “kites”; raise money or gain the temporary use of money by means of accommodation bills, or by borrowed, illegally certified, or worthless checks.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Prov. Eng. & Scot. The belly.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any raptorial bird of the subfamily Milvinæ, of which many species are known. They have long wings, adapted for soaring, and usually a forked tail.
  • noun Fig.: One who is rapacious.
  • noun A light frame of wood or other material covered with paper or cloth, for flying in the air at the end of a string.
  • noun (Naut.) A lofty sail, carried only when the wind is light.
  • noun (Geom.) A quadrilateral, one of whose diagonals is an axis of symmetry.
  • noun Cant Fictitious commercial paper used for raising money or to sustain credit, as a check which represents no deposit in bank, or a bill of exchange not sanctioned by sale of goods; an accommodation check or bill.
  • noun (Zoöl.), Prov. Eng. The brill.
  • noun (Naut.) A form of drag to be towed under water at any depth up to about forty fathoms, which on striking bottom is upset and rises to the surface; -- called also sentry.
  • noun (Naut.) See under Flying.
  • noun (Zoöl.) an African falcon of the genus Avicida, having some resemblance to a kite.
  • intransitive verb Cant To raise money by “kites;” .

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of falconiform birds of prey in the subfamily Elaninae of the family Accipitridae with long wings and weak legs, feeding mostly on carrion and spending long periods soaring.
  • noun A lightweight toy or other device carried on the wind and tethered and controlled from the ground by one or more lines.
  • noun A tethered object which deflects its position in a medium by obtaining lift and drag in reaction with its relative motion in the medium.
  • noun geometry A quadrilateral having two pairs of edges of equal length, the edges of each pair being consecutive.
  • noun banking A fraudulent draft, such as a check one drawn on insufficient funds or with altered face value.
  • noun astrology A planetary configuration wherein one planet of a grand trine is in opposition to an additional fourth planet.
  • noun slang An aircraft, or aeroplane.
  • noun sailing, dated A lightweight sail set above the topgallants, such as a studding-sail.
  • noun sailing, slang A spinnaker.
  • noun US, slang, prison A short letter.
  • verb rare, usually with "go" To fly a kite.
  • verb To glide in the manner of a kite.
  • verb To travel by kite, as when kitesurfing.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, bird of prey, from Old English cȳta.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English kite, kete, from Old English cȳta ("kite, bittern"), from Proto-Germanic *kūtijô, diminutive of *kūts (“bird of prey”), from Proto-Indo-European *gū- (“to cry, screech”). Cognate with Scots kyt, kyte ("kite, bird of prey"), Middle High German kiuzelīn, kützlīn ("owling"), German Kauz ("barn owl, screech owl").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain. Possibly from Middle English *kit, *kid (attested only in compounds: kidney), from Old English cwiþ ("belly, womb"), from Proto-Germanic *kweþuz (“stomach, belly”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷet-, *gut- (“swelling, rounding; stomach, entrails”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷu-, *gū- (“to bend, curve, bow, vault, distend”). Cognate with Icelandic kýta ("stomach of a fish, roe"), West Flemish kijte, kiete ("fleshy part of the body"), Middle Low German kūt ("entrails"), Icelandic kviður ("stomach"), kviði ("womb").



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  • The OED gives the bird first, with the toy first cited with a 1664 quotation; 'a blank cheque or a cheque drawn on insufficient funds or forged from a stolen cheque-book' is dated from the late 1920s.

    November 30, 2007

  • And nowhere is there the definition of an amusing flying device made of paper, string, and wood? Sheesh.

    November 30, 2007

  • If you ever find yourself attacked by kites in the wilderness, bear in mind that the antidote is pomegranates.

    November 30, 2007

  • Paper, string and wood (the toy): 'A toy consisting of a light frame, usually of wood, with paper or other light thin material stretched upon it; mostly in the form of an isosceles triangle with a circular arc as base, or a quadrilateral symmetrical about the longer diagonal; constructed (usually with a tail of some kind for the purpose of balancing it) to be flown in a strong wind by means of a long string attached.' (OED)

    November 30, 2007

  • Sionnach, that has to be one of the strangest sentences I've ever read. :-)

    November 30, 2007

  • In sailing, a nickname for a spinnaker.

    February 27, 2008

  • How bright on the blue

    Is a kite when it's new!

    With a dive and a dip

    It snaps its tail

    The soars like a ship

    With only a sail

    As over tides of wind it rides,

    Climbs to the crest of a gust and pulls,

    The seems to rest

    As wind falls.

    - Harry Behn, 'The Kite'.

    November 4, 2008

  • kite is

    British slang

    for aeroplane

    May 16, 2009

  • The Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival is held annually at Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan on the 4th Sunday of May.

    May 5, 2011