Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A European songbird (Luscinia megarhynchos) with reddish-brown plumage, noted for the melodious song of the male at night during the breeding season.
  • n. Any of various other nocturnal songbirds of the genus Luscinia.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A European songbird, Luscinia megarhynchos, of the family Turdidae.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small, plain, brown and gray European song bird (Luscinia megarhynchos syn. Luscinia luscinia). It sings at night, and is celebrated for the sweetness of its song.
  • n. A larger species (Lucinia philomela), of Eastern Europe, having similar habits; the thrush nightingale. The name is also applied to other allied species.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small sylviine bird of Europe, Asia, and Africa, belonging to the order Passeres, the suborder Oscines, the family Sylviidæ, and the genus Daulias.
  • n. Some bird which sings sweetly and hence is likened to or mistaken for a nightingale.
  • n. A sort of flannel scarf, with sleeves, designed to be worn by persons confined to bed. It was largely used by the sick and wounded in the Franco-German war, 1870–1.
  • n. A title popularly given to Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish singer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. English nurse remembered for her work during the Crimean War (1820-1910)
  • n. European songbird noted for its melodious nocturnal song

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English nihtegale : niht, night; see night + galan, to sing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English and Middle English nihtgale ("one who sings during the night") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Now we own that what there is so _indecorous_ in the first comparison, or so especially _decorous_ in the second, we cannot discover; neither can we make out whether Pope is the organ or the bell -- the nightingale or the cuckoo; we suppose that Mr. Hunt knows that Pope was called by his contemporaries the _nightingale_, but we never heard Milton and

    Famous Reviews

  • He sends his courtiers to take a nightingale from the nearby forest and present her as a guest at court.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • Voiture, in his thirty-fifth letter to Costar, compliments the musical atom of Marini, the feathered voice, the living breath clothed in plumage, the winged song, the small spirit of harmony, hidden amidst diminutive lungs; all of which terms are employed to convey the word nightingale:

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • Among all those who surround the sick mother and who hope for her recovery, only the old blind grandfather notices furtive and sliding steps in the garden where the cyprus trees are beginning to rustle and where the nightingale is hushed; he feels a cold breeze pass, he hears a scythe being whetted, he reckons that someone invisible to the others has entered to sit in their circle.

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1911 - Presentation Speech

  • In the first place, he sings more or less the whole year round, and never deserts his native fields, while the nightingale is only in voice for a few weeks in May and June.

    Rural Hours

  • But after our Father and the Old Squire went to law, Mother told us we must be content with hearing the nightingale from a distance.

    Mary's Meadow; and Letters From a Little Garden

  • A lad warbling in his throat, at his highest and loudest scream, in imitation of a nightingale, is the perfection of vocal music, which they will listen to with pleasure for hours, and beguile the longest day's journey with the same dulcet strains.

    Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia

  • Now my voice has lost its melting music, and he sends his accomplice to leave the mute 'nightingale' -- how often he has called me so!

    Barbara Blomberg — Volume 07

  • He gave feverish directions to the nurse about a comfortable chair being put exactly in the right place, about his pillows being smoothed, his medicine bottles hidden, and was very anxious that the flannel garment he was made to wear when ill, a garment his mother called a nightingale -- not after the bird but the lady -- and that was the bluest flannel garment ever seen, should be arranged neatly over his narrow chest.

    The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight

  • – the sweet nightingale is pouring forth its evening melody.

    Act I

Comments

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  • I say No. 1: NIGHTing-gale. Definitely with a nasal "ng" sound in the middle, followed by a voiced velar stop ("g").

    October 14, 2008

  • Same here, more or less. :-)

    October 14, 2008

  • More like NIGHT n gale.

    October 12, 2008

  • Pronunciation survey – Do you say:
    1. Nigh-ting-gale
    2. Nigh-tin-gale
    ?

    October 12, 2008

  • Cute, bilby.

    July 6, 2008

  • A little message from the nightingale for you all, right here.

    July 6, 2008

  • "But her words remained so indistinct and the sound which was all that I caught was prolonged so sweetly and seemed to me so musical that it was as if, among the dim branches of the trees, a nightingale had begun to sing."

    -- Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, pp 537-538 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    April 26, 2008

  • Nightingales are so named because they frequently sing at night as well as during the day. The name has been used for well over 1,000 years, being highly recognizable even in its Anglo-Saxon form - 'nihtingale'. It means 'night songstress'. Early writers assumed the female sang; in fact, it is the male. Its song is loud, with an impressive range of whistles, trills and gurgles, and is particularly noticeable at night because few other birds are singing.

    October 6, 2007