cormorant
n. Any of several large, widely distributed marine diving birds of the genus Phalacrocorax, having dark plumage, webbed feet, a slender hooked bill, and a distensible pouch.
n. A greedy, rapacious person.

I was aware of cormorant in the sense of a marine bird, but I never knew that it could be used to describe a gluttonous or greedy person (do the birds have a reputation for avarice and excess?). Note that it can also be used, unchanged, as an adjective—i.e. a cormorant person is a greedy person.

My guess is that the adjective must be backformed from the bird, because the etymological roots of the word come from Old French cormareng, figuratively a “raven of the sea,” which itself comes from the Latin corvus marinus. The construction found its way into Middle English as cormoraunt, with the same meaning.

§1635 · January 17, 2007 · Tags: ·

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