Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a large bird that eats the bodies of dead animals

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun vulture comes from the Latin ‘vultur’ or ‘vulturius‘ and entered English via French in the 14th century.


Sometimes it seems that there is a special day for everything under the sun. Saturday was International Vulture Awareness Day, dedicated to raising the profile of these 23 species of impressive but threatened birds. Vultures are not native to the UK, but English birders have had a treat this summer since one has taken up residence in the Peak District National Park in central England. The bird in question, a young female lammergeier or bearded vulture, is thought to have wandered from its home in the Alps or the Pyrenees. As well as being a type of large bird of prey, a vulture is also a human, one who preys on other people, exploiting their weaknesses. A culture vulture, meanwhile, is someone who is extremely interested in the arts. Macmillan Dictionary labels this term as ‘showing disapproval’ but I’m not sure that it always the case; it’s often used humorously in a slightly mocking way, which is rather different from disapproval.


“By the time I got to kindergarten, I was surprised to find out I was the only kid with a turkey vulture.”
(Jean Craighead George)

I’m a culture vulture, and I just want to experience it all.’
(Debbie Harry)

Related words

buzzard, eagle, falcon, hawk

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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