• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Sheartail (Zoöl) The common tern.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n sheartail A humming-bird of the genus Thaumastura, having a very long forficate tail, like a pair of shears, as T. cora, T. henicura, etc. In the cora hummer (to which the genus Thaumastura is now usually restricted, the others formerly referred to it being placed in Doricha) the structure of the tail is peculiar; for the middle pair of feathers is so short as to be almost hidden by the coverts, while the next pair is suddenly and extremely lengthened, and then the other three pairs rapidly shorten from within outward. In Doricha (D. henicura, etc.) the shape of the tail is simply forficate, as the feathers lengthen from the shortest middle pair to the longest outer pair, like a tern's. In all these cases the long feathers are very narrow and linear, or of about uniform width to their ends. The peculiar formation is confined to the males. T. cera, has the tail (in the male) about 4 inches long, though the length of the bird is scarcely 6 inches; it is golden-green above and mostly white below, with a metallic crimson gorget reflecting blue in some lights, and the tail black and white. The female is 3¼ inches long, the tail being 1¼. It inhabits Peru. Five species of Doricha range from the Bahamas and parts of Mexico into Central America.
    • n sheartail A sea-swallow or tern: from the long forked tail. See cut under roseate.
    • n sheartail A British shears-moth, as Hadena dentina.
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