Meaning of magpie in English:


Pronunciation /ˈmaɡpʌɪ/

Translate magpie into Spanish


  • 1A long-tailed crow with boldly marked (or green) plumage and a noisy call.

    Family Corvidae: five genera and several species, in particular the black-and-white Pica pica of Eurasia and North America

    ‘The corvines - crows, rooks, jays, magpies and jackdaws - are relentless stealers of other birds' eggs and chicks.’
    • ‘Long-eared Owls usually nest in abandoned stick nests, often the nests of magpies, crows, ravens, or hawks.’
    • ‘The brain-to-body ratio of crows, ravens and magpies equals that of dolphins and nearly matches humans.’
    • ‘He said the proliferation of Corvids birds like grey crows, magpies and rooks could be directly linked to the decline in songbirds in the area.’
    • ‘Just 40 metres away was the lynx, sharing its meal with some noisy magpies.’
    • ‘There are 113 members of the avian family called Corvidae, or corvids, which includes crows, jackdaws, rooks, ravens, as well as jays, nutcrackers and magpies.’
    • ‘The campus, which was once a barren patch of land, was converted into a haven for magpies and robins and blue jays in a short span of 30 years.’
    • ‘Chit-chat - keep talking to your baby about what you see and hear as you walk along, anything from the noisy bus to the magpies squabbling in the trees.’
    • ‘A pair of long-tailed magpies is building a nest in the trees along the millstream that runs down from the hills and through town.’
    • ‘Like jays and crows, their cousins, magpies are mischievous and bold.’
    • ‘In learning to escape the vigilance of crows, birds also avoid the attention of some other predators, such as jays and magpies.’
    • ‘Driving through farmland you will come across a variety of wildlife including spur winged plovers, white faced herons, and magpies playing roadside roulette and taunting cyclists.’
    • ‘Netting unless very well put on the trees prove no good as the clever jackdaw or cheeky magpie can get in with ease in the smallest opening.’
    • ‘There was the occasional chatter of magpies or jays, and once the bobbing flight of a greater spotted woodpecker.’
    • ‘Some kind of magpie was chattering from the cherry trees, sounding like a child's imitation of a machine gun.’
    • ‘Mr Fletcher said that a number of people had been caught keeping wild birds, particularly finches and magpies, as pets.’
    • ‘A sudden flash of ebony and ivory caused me to scream shrilly without intention as the bird, a magpie, flew directly at my exposed face!’
    • ‘All around the greedy jackjaws, blackbirds, thrushes and magpies eye the ripening fruit and at the exact moment that the fruit ripens they pounce leaving nothing but pips.’
    • ‘If we do not get magpies under better control the damage they do to other birds eggs and newly-hatched chicks will continue.’
    • ‘With the exception of magpies and pigeons, birds are rarely seen in gardens, but the talk included pictures of all kinds of birds in their natural habitats.’
  • 2

    (also bell magpie)
    Any bird of the Australasian butcher-bird family, having black-and-white plumage and musical calls.

    Family Cracticidae: several species

    ‘The pair compared data from studies covering 18 different species, including dwarf mongooses, meerkats, Florida scrub jays, western bluebirds, and Australian magpies.’
    • ‘The Grey Butcherbird, like the magpie, can also be responsible for swooping during Spring in an effort to protect their young.’
    • ‘But when you get to magpies or butcherbirds the training period becomes longer, so in fact magpies have to learn for about 5 years before they are ready to breed.’
    • ‘After the first broadcast, which you recall was on mimicry of Australian magpies.’
    • ‘For 109 years the Australian magpie has been the Collingwood Football Club's emblem.’
  • 3Used figuratively to refer to a person who obsessively collects things or who chatters idly.

    ‘his father was a garrulous old man who chattered like a magpie’
    • ‘he would carry these documents home to appease his secretive magpie instinct’
    • ‘The Eameses were magpie collectors of Americana - toys, tools, quilts, cotton reels, primitive paintings - and this love affair shines through their short films.’
    • ‘They are very far from being traditional; they are magpie collectors of everything that might suit them, and that includes rhetoric.’
    • ‘We are living in a society based on the concept of ownership; a magpie culture.’
    • ‘The things inside came from Rayburn's magpie collection of boxes, art supplies and flea-market treasures, and they were arranged to suggest the way they'd once been stashed in his studio.’
    • ‘The colourful packaging, all purples and pinks, should appeal to your magpie tendencies, while the actual products - eau de toilette, bath crystals and more - will not disappoint.’
    • ‘Yet if Paolozzi's work was the result of the brilliant deconstructions and recontextualisations of a magpie mind, at its heart lay simple draughtsmanship, a natural engagement with beauty.’
    • ‘He was the human sampling machine, selling millions of records and drawing degree-level analysis from critics impressed by his magpie eclecticism and arch intelligence.’
    • ‘This suggests that Scotland's best hope lies in the evolution of a creative magpie cuisine that draws on diverse culinary influences, tempered by the realisation that less is more.’
    • ‘It was Jo Gordon's trademark Dr Who scarves that first aroused the magpie eyes of the UK fashion pack three years ago, sounding the first death knell for the soppy pashmina.’
    • ‘I managed to avert my eyes in the Christmas decorations section - they're just so sparkly, you see… my magpie tendencies cannot resist.’
    • ‘The Ding Foundation is the squirrel and magpie of the theatre world - collecting and rescuing abandoned objects, and all the debris and detritus of other people's lives, and animating them in order to tell stories.’
    • ‘In a nursing home herself, with the help of a retired schoolteacher, she rewrote her entire memoir and added it to her massive magpie stack of letters, clippings, essays, and keepsakes.’
    • ‘English prides itself on being the magpie language, freely picking up foreign words to incorporate into its flexible vocabulary.’
    • ‘For the rest of his long, innovative and hugely prolific career, he drew inspiration from the comics, novelties, magazines, toys and cheap novelettes collected over the years with magpie insatiability.’
    • ‘Which isn't to say that their music is entirely created by others - but it is a collaborative, magpie process, drawing on the talents of remixers as much as their own restless experiments with samplers and computer programs.’
    • ‘Together, they form a visual diary of his trips, containing thousands of photographs, ephemera, pages from magazines and newspapers - anything that catches Galliano's magpie eye.’
    • ‘The exquisite but inexpensive jewellery acts like a magnet to magpie wives and their pleased husbands who can finally afford ‘something really nice’ in the cheap displays.’
    • ‘While clearly inspired by a Romantic sensibility, he is never quite free from the bonds of his precise, inquiring, magpie mind.’
    • ‘Such are the artist's magpie tendencies that one of the reasons he chose his flat in Leith was that it afforded him a view of a scrapyard.’
    • ‘The better-known Salsa Celtica also stood out amongst the crop of musical magpies, playing to a jam-packed Fruitmarket and augmenting their Cuban sound with pipes and fiddles following the lead of the brass section and keyboards.’
  • 4The division of a circular target next to the outer one, or a shot which strikes this.

    ‘The target was white with a black bull's-eye (counting 5 points) and two rings, invisible to the firer, called the "inner" and the "magpie," and scoring 4 and 3; the rest of the target was called the "outer" and counted points.’
    • ‘This system was the basis of all match shooting, whether with match or service rifles, and (with the trifling difference that the bull counted 4, the inner 3 and the magpie and outer alike 2) it was followed in military range practice.’


Late 16th century probably shortening of dialect maggot the pie, maggoty-pie, from Magot(Middle English pet form of the given name Marguerite) + pie.