from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A wagtail most properly so called; any species of Motacilla in a strict sense, as distinguished from Budytes. In England the name commonly specifies the pied wagtail, Motacilla lugubris. See cut under wagtail.
  • noun Same as water-thrush, 1.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • His thin, commanding nose dominated a mask of brown skin and bone, his narrow brown eyes glowed slightly, his dark hair was smooth and brushed back; he was five feet seven inches in height, and long seasons, during which he had been afraid to eat, had laid a look of austerity over such natural liveliness, as may be observed in-say — a water-wagtail.

    Swan Song

  • The birds were swift-winged hawks and owls, pigeons and ring-doves; crows again became common, and the water-wagtail was tame as the Brazilian thrush, João de Barros: it hopped about within a few feet of us, quite ignoring the presence of Frenchmen armed with murderous guns.

    The Land of Midian

  • The yellowish _Bunting-like_ water-wagtail, is very common just now: it occurs in wheat fields; flight, chirp, and mode of getting up when disturbed just as in the Buntings.

    Journals of Travels in Assam, Burma, Bhootan, Afghanistan and the Neighbouring Countries

  • Now this was all very well, thought Barrett, but what he had come for was the ovular deposit of the water-wagtail.

    The Pothunters

  • He wavered, but a recollection that there was water in the Badgwick direction, and that he might with luck beard a water-wagtail in its lair, decided him.

    The Pothunters

  • Is it known that the pretty pied water-wagtail is called la lavandière from its love of water and its manner of beating up and down its tail as our washerwomen wield their wooden beaters?

    A Childhood in Brittany Eighty Years Ago

  • After about an hour of red haziness the sun pierced the bank of mist and shone out gloriously, almost as in summer; the birds, ready to snatch a moment's joy, were flitting about tweeting and calling, a water-wagtail took a bath in a shallow pool of a stream, and a great flock of bramblings, rare visitors in those parts, paused in their migration to hold a chattering conference round an old elder tree.

    A Popular Schoolgirl

  • From Bungay in Suffolk comes the news that a water-wagtail has built its nest in a milk-can.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, 1920-04-25

  • Gibbs came to me a few days later -- you realise how gossip spreads in these places -- and said that he was hurt in his mind to think that Miss Maud should call him a water-wagtail.


  • 'Do you think Catherine pretty?' said Rose, with an excellent pretence of innocence, detaching a little pebble and flinging it harmlessly at a water-wagtail balancing on a stone below.

    Robert Elsmere


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