- either of two small, reddish-gray European falcons (Falco tinnunculus or F. naumanni) that can hover in the air
- American kestrel
Origin of kestrelMiddle English castrel ; from Old French cresserelle, quercerelle: origin, originally echoic
- A small falcon (Falco sparverius) found throughout the Americas, having vertical black stripes under the eyes and characteristically hovering over fields to hunt. Also called sparrow hawk.
- A small falcon (Falco tinnunculus) of Europe, Asia, and Africa that hovers when hunting and has reddish-brown plumage and a gray head.
- Any of various similar falcons of the genus Falco that hover when hunting.
Origin of kestrelProbably from obsolete French cresserelle, from Old French cresserele, probably from cresselle, clacker, kestrel.
male American kestrel
From Middle English castrel (“staniel, bird of prey”), from Middle French cresserelle, crecerelle (“bird of prey”), derivative of crecelle (“rattle, wooden reel”), of obscure origin.
Derivation from the assumed Vulgar Latin *crepicella, *crepitacillum, a diminutive of crepitāculum, from crepitāre (“to crackle”) is difficult to explain from a morphological point of view. Instead, possibly from a root *krek-, *krak- (“to crack, rattle, creak, emit a bird cry”), from Middle Dutch crāken (“to creak, crack”), from Old Dutch *krakōn (“to crack, creak, emit a cry”), from Proto-Germanic *krakōną (“to emit a cry, shout”), from Proto-Indo-European *gArg- (“to shout”). Cognate with Old High German krahhōn (“to make a sound, crash”), Old English cracian (“to resound”), Middle French craquer (used of birds, “to emit a repeated cry”). More at creak, crack.