Meaning of shrike in English:


Pronunciation /ʃrʌɪk/

Translate shrike into Spanish


  • 1A songbird with a strong sharply hooked bill, often impaling its prey of small birds, lizards, and insects on thorns.

    Also called butcher-bird

    Family Laniidae: several genera and numerous species, especially in Africa, e.g. the great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor), of both Eurasia and North America

    ‘Because their feet are not large or strong enough to hold prey, shrikes find a crotch in a tree, a thorn, or barbed wire to hang their prey on while they eat.’
    • ‘The horned lizard Phrynosoma mcalli apparently uses the horns on its head to deter the shrike, a bird fond of impaling lizards on thorns or barbed wire for later consumption.’
    • ‘Shrike babblers were originally described as shrikes, because of their hooked bill, but have been subsequently placed among babblers.’
    • ‘Mice, other birds, and large insects form the bulk of the shrike's diet.’
    • ‘The shrike had pinned smaller birds on the tree's black thorns and the sun had stripped them of their feathers.’
    • ‘Male shrikes in Israel's Negev Desert impale snails and nest-building materials onto thorns to attract mates.’
    • ‘Birds such as grouse, crows, quail, partridge, nightjars, cuckoos, shrikes, larks, pipits, merlins, harriers, kestrels and buzzards would all have been seen.’
    • ‘The bees have come in swarms to suck scant drops of water from the ground under the garden tap, fighting with doves, pigeons, weavers and a family of shrikes for the last few thirst-quenching diamonds.’
    1. 1.1Used in names of birds of other families that are similar to the shrike, e.g. cuckoo-shrike, pepper-shrike.


Mid 16th century perhaps related to Old English scrīc ‘thrush’ and Middle Low German schrīk ‘corncrake’, of imitative origin.