How Do You Spell TERN?

Pronunciation: [tˈɜːn] (IPA)

The word "tern" is often pronounced as /tɜːrn/ in British English and /tɜrn/ in American English. Its spelling is unique, reflecting the fact that it describes a specific type of sea bird. The word likely originated from an Old Norse word, which means to "turn around," and it referred to the bird's ability to sharply turn in flight. Pronouncing the word correctly is important in order to properly communicate about the bird or other concepts related to it.

TERN Meaning and Definition

  1. A tern is a type of seabird belonging to the family Sternidae. These birds are usually medium-sized, with slender bodies, long wings, and forked tails. Terns typically have black or gray upperparts, white underparts, and a white forehead, although some species display variations in coloration. Their bills are usually thin and pointed, enabling them to catch fish with precision.

    Terns are highly adapted to a marine lifestyle, being excellent fliers and expert divers. These birds are known for their remarkable aerial agility, swiftly maneuvering and swooping down to catch fish near the water's surface. They have keen eyesight, which allows them to spot prey from above. Additionally, terns are highly migratory birds, traveling long distances every year from their breeding grounds to their wintering areas. They often form large colonies on coastal islands or sandy beaches during the breeding season, nesting in shallow depressions on the ground.

    Terns are mostly piscivorous, meaning their main diet consists of fish. They plunge-dive into the water to catch their prey, relying on their sharp bills to ensure successful captures. In addition to fish, terns also feed on small crustaceans, insects, and other marine invertebrates. These birds play an essential role in marine ecosystems by helping to control fish populations and serving as indicators of ecosystem health. Overall, terns are striking and graceful birds that are highly adapted to their marine environment.

  2. • Three-fold: consisting of three.
    • A long-winged aquatic fowl, allied to the gulls.

    Etymological and pronouncing dictionary of the English language. By Stormonth, James, Phelp, P. H. Published 1874.

Top Common Misspellings for TERN *

* The statistics data for these misspellings percentages are collected from over 15,411,110 spell check sessions on from Jan 2010 - Jun 2012.

Other Common Misspellings for TERN

Etymology of TERN

The word "tern" comes from the Old English word "tærn" or "tearn", which referred to a species of seabird. This Old English term is believed to have originated from the Proto-Germanic word "tarniz" or "tarnus", which meant "tern" or "seagull". The Proto-Germanic term further traces back to the Proto-Indo-European root "*der-" meaning "to tear" or "to scratch", which likely refers to the tern's behavior of diving and "tearing" through the water's surface to catch fish.

Similar spelling words for TERN

Plural form of TERN is TERNS


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