1. (Science: ornithology) One of many species of small singing birds of the family Fringilligae, having conical bills, and feeding chiefly on seeds. Many sparrows are called also finches, and buntings. The common sparrow, or house sparrow, of Europe (Passer domesticus) is noted for its familiarity, its voracity, its attachment to its young, and its fecundity. See House sparrow, under House.
The following American species are well known; the chipping sparrow, or chippy, the sage sparrow, the savanna sparrow, the song sparrow, the tree sparrow, and the white-throated sparrow (see peabody bird). See these terms under Sage, Savanna, etc.
2. (Science: zoology) Any one of several small singing birds somewhat resembling the true sparrows in form or habits, as the European hedge sparrow. See Hedge. He that doth the ravens feed, yea, providently caters for the sparrow, be comfort to my age! (Shak) field sparrow, fox sparrow, etc. See Field, Fox, etc. Sparrow bill, a small nail; a castiron shoe nail; a sparable. Sparrow hawk.
Origin: OE. Sparwe, AS. Spearwa; akin to OHG. Sparo, G. Sperling, Icel. Sporr, Dan. Spurv, spurre, Sw. Sparf, Goth. Sparwa; originally, probably, the quiverer or flutterer, and akin to E. Spurn. See Spurn, and cf. Spavin.