AskDefine | Define fowl

Dictionary Definition



1 a domesticated gallinaceous bird though to be descended from the red jungle fowl [syn: domestic fowl, poultry]
2 the flesh of a bird or fowl (wild or domestic) used as food [syn: bird]


1 hunt fowl
2 hunt fowl in the forest

User Contributed Dictionary



From fugol, from . Cognate with Dutch vogel, German Vogel, Swedish fågel. Probably related ultimately to fly.


  • , /faʊl/, /faUl/
  • Homophones: foul
    Rhymes with: -aʊl


  1. A bird.
  2. A bird of the order Galliformes, including chickens, turkeys, pheasant, partridges and quail.
  3. Birds which are hunted or kept for food, including Galliformes and also waterfowl of the order Anseriformes such as ducks, geese and swans.


  • Hungarian: madár
Galliformes, including chickens, turkeys, pheasant, partridges and quail
  • Hungarian: baromfi, szárnyas
  • Polish: drób
Galliformes and also waterfowl of the order Anseriformes such as ducks, geese and swans
  • Hungarian: szárnyas, vízi szárnyas
  • Polish: ptactwo


  1. To hunt fowl.

Middle English


From fugol, from .


enm-noun fowles
  1. a bird
And smale fowles maken melodyeThat slepen all the night with open ye - Chaucer, General Prologue, Canterbury Tales, ll.9-10

Extensive Definition

The birds referred to as fowl belong to one of two orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl (Galliformes) and the waterfowl (Anseriformes). Interestingly, studies of anatomical and molecular similarities suggest these two groups were close evolutionary relatives; together, they form the fowl clade which is scientifically known as Galloanserae. This clade has been supported by Retrotransposon presence/absence data as well.
"Poultry", on the other hand, is a term for any kind of domesticated bird or bird captive-raised for meat or eggs; ostriches for example are sometimes kept as poultry, but are neither gamefowl nor waterfowl. In colloquial speech, the term "fowl" is however often used near-synonymously with "poultry" or even "bird", and many languages do not distinguish between "poultry" and "fowl". Nonetheless, the fact that Galliformes and Anseriformes most likely form a monophyletic group makes a distinction between "fowl" and "poultry" warranted.
Many birds that are eaten by humans are fowl, including poultry such as chickens or turkeys, game birds such as pheasants or partridges, other wildfowl like guineafowl or peafowl, and waterfowl such as ducks or geese.
Fowl were the first neognathe lineages to evolve. From the limited fossils that have to date been recovered, the conclusion that they were already widespread - indeed the predominant group of modern birds - by end of the Cretaceous is generally accepted nowadays. Fossils such as Vegavis indicate that essentially modern waterfowl - albeit belonging to a nowadays extinct lineage - were contemporaries of the (non-avian) dinosaurs. As opposed to the morphologically fairly conservative Galliformes, the Anseriformes have adapted to filter-feeding and are characterized by a large number of autapomorphies related to this lifestyle. The extremely advanced feeding systems of the Anseriformes, together with similarities of the early anseriform Presbyornis to shorebirds, had formerly prompted some scientists to ally Anseriformes with Charadriiformes instead (see also "Graculavidae"). However, strong support for the Galloanserae has emerged in more recent studies based on new molecular and morphological analyses; the fowl clade continues to be accepted as a genuine evolutionary lineage by the vast majority of scientists.


fowl in German: Geflügel
fowl in French: Galloanserae
fowl in Indonesian: Unggas
fowl in Japanese: キジカモ小綱 (Sibley)
fowl in Narom: Volâle
fowl in Simple English: Fowl

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bantam, Cornish hen, avifauna, baby bird, banty, barn-door fowl, barnyard fowl, beat, biddy, bird, bird of Jove, bird of Juno, bird of Minerva, bird of night, bird of passage, bird of prey, birdie, birdlife, birdy, breast, broiler, brooder, broody hen, cage bird, caille, canard, caneton, capon, chanticleer, chapon, chase, chick, chickabiddy, chicken, chicken foot, chicky, cock, cockerel, course, cygnet, dark meat, dindon, diving bird, dog, domestic fowl, dove, drake, drive, drumstick, duck, duckling, dunghill fowl, eagle, eaglet, faisan, falcon, fish-eating bird, fledgling, flightless bird, flush, follow the hounds, fruit-eating bird, fryer, fulmar, game bird, game fowl, gander, giblets, go hunting, gobbler, goose, gosling, grouse, guinea cock, guinea fowl, guinea hen, gun, hawk, hen, hen turkey, hound, hunt, hunt down, insect-eating bird, jack, jacklight, leg, migrant, migratory bird, neck, nestling, oie, oscine bird, owl, oyster, partlet, partridge, passerine bird, peacock, peafowl, peahen, perching bird, pheasant, pigeon, pigeonneau, poulard, poulet, poult, poultry, prowl after, pullet, quail, ratite, ride to hounds, roaster, rooster, run, sea bird, seed-eating bird, setting hen, shikar, shoot, shore bird, songbird, sport, spring chicken, squab, stalk, start, stewing chicken, still-hunt, storm petrel, stormy petrel, swan, thigh, tom, tom turkey, track, trail, turkey, turkey foot, turkey gobbler, turkey-cock, volaille, wading bird, warbler, water bird, waterfowl, white meat, wild duck, wildfowl, wing, wishbone
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