Word of the Week (WOW) – Popinjay


Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly challenge created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by not necessary, but it’s up to you.

I’m up to the letter P this week. I started off by just choosing a word at random (perspicacious). Since then, I’ve been working through the alphabet, so I’ll be looking for a good word beginning with next week

So, here is my WOW for this week:


Word: Popinjay

Pronunciation:   Pop·in·jay  [pop-in-jey]  (popinˌdzei)

Audio Link: popinjay

Part of Speech:  Noun

Adjective: Popinjay (when used to describe colours, e.g. popinjay blue; popinjay green).


1.  A conceited, vain,  foppish, or excessively talkative person.


2.  British Dialect. a woodpecker, especially the green woodpecker.

Green Woodpecker. Wikimedia Commons. Source: geograph.org.uk. Author: Christine Matthews.
Green Woodpecker. Wikimedia Commons. Source: geograph.org.uk.
Author: Christine Matthews.

3.  An archaic word for parrot.


4. Archaic: the figure of a parrot usually fixed on a pole and used as a target in archery and gun shooting.

Two men shooting a popinjay (papegai). Public Domain. Anonymous.

Here is a good summary of the word’s meaning that I found at Dictionary Definition: Vocabulary.com

A popinjay is a person who is both talkative and cocky, who struts around chattering like a parrot. Fittingly, it’s also an old-fashioned word meaning parrot, and the name of a sport also known as pole archery, in which players shoot at wooden bird shapes with either rifles or crossbows. The origin of popinjay is unknown, but one guess is that its roots are imitative, meant to sound like the cry of a bird.


fop, swell, buck, peacock, dandy, jackanapes, coxcomb, egoist, egotist, beau, blade, clothes-horse, dude, macaroni, Beau Brummel, blabbermouth, chatterbox.

Word Origin:

1275-1325; Middle English papejay, popingay, papinjai < Middle French papegai, papingay parrot < Spanish papagayo < Arabic babaghā

Use in a Sentence:

1.  The party host was a strutting, supercilious dandy; a real popinjay.

2. Maria sighed when she realised that her blind date was another Beau Brummel, who cared too much about his own appearance to appreciate the efforts she had made with hers.

Beau Brummel Gillette Advert. Wikimedia Commons

3. The men congregated around the pole, some taking aim at the wooden popinjay fixed securely to the top.

Jeu du papegay. Anonymous. Public Domain
Jeu du papegay. Anonymous. Public Domain

4. (Adjective use). Carol’s new dress was a bright, popinjay blue.


4.  Her constant bragging gave her the air of being an irritating popinjay


If you’d like to see more interesting words, visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

35 thoughts on “Word of the Week (WOW) – Popinjay

    1. I know how many challenges you already do, Dawn, and I really admire how you manage to fit them all in. 🙂 Thank you very much for liking my posts, though. 🙂 I love finding things out about words – as I’m sure you do. Finding nice pics to illustrate them can be a bit tricky sometimes, and I’ve abandoned some really good words because I couldn’t find suitable illustrations. But it was my own choice to illustrate, and Louise decided to as well (my daughter – afairymind).

    1. Ah, thank you, Michael. Teachers always seem to recognise each other’s style, don’t they? Popinjay is usually thought of as such a dated word, but I just like the sound of it. And it does rather suit a squawky parrot. 🙂

    1. I agree, it has several different uses. It’s an interesting old word. I like it’s use for blue and green colours in particular, but I may also use it to describe a foppish sort of man. Thank you very much for liking it, too! 🙂

    1. Thanks, PJ, I’m glad you liked it! It is an old word, but it’s a pretty one, I think. It quite suits a parrot, too. I’d quite like to use popinjay to describe blue or green. 🙂

  1. Yes, I think it fits the parrot really well, Scrapydo – not only the colours but the squawks and fussing about like a parrot, too. The word isn’t used a lot nowadays, other than in historical fiction, although I’ve seen it used to describe blue and green occasionally. 🙂

    1. Hey, Galit! Thank you for liking my post. (Thank you also for following me on Twitter – which I’ve still not done anything about. I know … shoot me now!) 😦 I really must get these things organised. 🙂

      1. Take your time, We learn and then we can’t live without, lol. Naaaa, just kidding 😀 Take things slow and I am sure you will learn about all these social media, lol.

      2. I just don’t know what to tweet about! I can’t just keep rabbiting on about my books! I’m just too old-fashioned, Galit. Just call me Grandma! 🙂

      3. Tweet a bit about your book and a bit about your posts. The rest tweet about something you read, seen, heard, quotes, pictures, something you did. Anything that you think “this is okay to share with others”, lol. And… from time to time articles you liked and pictures.
        I love buffer a lot. I have an add on for my firefox and each time I see something nice I hit buffer and it scheduled to tweet 😀 It’s a learning curve but you are an awesome writer/author and people should get to know you 🙂

      4. Thank you for that amazing compliment about my writing! ❤ But as you probably realise by now, I'm HOPELESS at self-promition. But I'll definitely think carefully about all the wonderful advice you've so kindly taken the time to give me. I really do appreciate it! 🙂

      5. What I love about the social media that you don’t need to self promote much, but to be yourself and be active. If you just write about your writing it will not work. Even I hate that and block them, lol. I don’t want to see my feed full of only books people wrote and nothing else, lol.

      6. I’ll have a little think about things I could do and hopefully come up with some useful ideas. Thanks again, Galit. You really are a very thoughtful person. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much for that nice comment. 🙂 I like popinjay, too, because it’s quaint and sounds quite pretty. It’s not used much nowadays, apart from in describing blue and green colours. Mind you, I don’t think it would be too out of place in sentences like the ones I put on my post. But it does suit a parrot so well! 🙂

  2. What a wonderful word! New to me. I too love the idea of using it for a blue or green colour – or a mixture of blue/green colours. Thanks for introducing me to it.

    1. Glad you liked this one, Bekki. I think it’s quite a pretty sound – especially for describing those colours. And for describing a parrot, of course!

      1. Yes, definitely an attractive word. Reminded me of Mockingjay too – which I guess has the same route and popinjay literally meaning birds that make popping noises?

      2. Yes, it sounds exactly the same route. If you’ve read any Dorothy Dunnet’d novels about Lymond, set in the 26th century, she refers to the parrot on the pole as a papingo. I wondered whether that was the Scottish version. In that particular scene, the target is actually a real parrot, not a wooden one.

    1. It’s useful if you write a lot about parrots! Other than that, I do like the word as an adjective for green and blue colours. But yes, it does desribe a fop/dandy well. too. 😀

  3. Love the word and your sentences. It seems a very english word as I have not heard it said here. Thank goodness we can still use these words without being considered politically incorrect

    1. Yes, it’s a word that can easily be used in derogatory terms -e.g. ‘that supercilious popinjay’ – but I don’t think it woudn’t be frowned on too much. It’s such an old-fashioned word – and I love the sound of it. It really suits a squawking parrot so well. It’s also good for blue/green colours. Thanks, Amanda. 🙂

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