white feather

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n white feather a symbol of cowardice
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Brown eggs come from hens with red feathers and red ear lobes; white eggs come from hens with white feathers and white ear lobes.
    • White feather a mark or symbol of cowardice. See To show the white feather, under Feather n.
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Idioms

White feather - If someone shows a white feather, they are cowards.
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Usage

In literature:

There was just enough breeze to put a tiny feather on the windward slope of the waves, and every white crest caught the glory.
"The Honorable Percival" by Alice Hegan Rice
Down in the valley a mist like a white feather rose gently into a white cloud, and obscured everything.
"The Girl from Montana" by Grace Livingston Hill
No longer shall your feathers be black and white; they shall be black and brown and yellow.
"The Magic Speech Flower" by Melvin Hix
Others again are made of feathers entirely white, with variegated borders.
"A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17" by Robert Kerr
A white feather adorned his black broad-leaved hat, and he had a rapier by his side.
"The Lancashire Witches" by William Harrison Ainsworth
That mad American might do anything but show the white feather.
"A Daughter of the Dons" by William MacLeod Raine
I hate to show a white feather.
"The Rustlers of Pecos County" by Zane Grey
A negress was waving over her head a huge fan of long white feathers.
"A Friend of Caesar" by William Stearns Davis
The fireplace was set in glossy-white tiles, and its opening covered with a screen of white feathers.
"A Man's Woman" by Frank Norris
Had he shown the white feather we might have left him to the asvogels.
"Campaign Pictures of the War in South Africa (1899-1900)" by A. G. Hales
It is the first time I have ever known you to show the white feather.
"The Facts of Reconstruction" by John R. Lynch
I'm showing the white feather, a hatful of them.
"Mrs. Red Pepper" by Grace S. Richmond
He wasn't good enough even to kneel at her feet, so she shut him out and married a Prince with a white feather in his cap.
"The Gay Cockade" by Temple Bailey
I saw one down there, and he wasn't a year old, but his tail looked like a great white ostrich feather, and it touched the ground.
"The Fat of the Land" by John Williams Streeter
I was so glad when you made your reservation that in the past, at least, you had not shown the white feather.
"Dan Merrithew" by Lawrence Perry
This hunting dress and these feathers of the eagle are white.
"Great Indian Chief of the West" by Benjamin Drake
They were all black, with maybe a white feather or two underneath the sombre plumage.
"Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 2" by James Richardson
All white-feathered fowl, in spite of yellow legs, look cadaverous when picked.
"The Hills of Hingham" by Dallas Lore Sharp
Here are three white feathers.
"The Four Feathers" by A. E. W. Mason
No white feather now when these Yankees can see you.
"The Southerner" by Thomas Dixon
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In poetry:

And now I see that feathered skin
My figure covers all around.
My breast is downy and my back is winged,
I shine with pearly swan-like white.
"The Swan" by Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin
Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.
"Apologia" by Oscar Wilde
All the fair maidens about him shall cluster,
Pluck the white feathers from bonnet and fan,
Make him a plume like a turkey-wing duster,--
That is the crest for the sweet little man!
"The Sweet Little Man" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Now then, nine cheers for the Stay-at-Home Ranger!
Blow the great fish-horn and beat the big pan!
First in the field that is farthest from danger,
Take your white-feather plume, sweet little man!
"The Sweet Little Man" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
"When stones shall take, of themselves, a flight,
And ravens' feathers are woxen white,
Then may'st thou expect Svend Vonved home:
In all my days, I will never come."
Look out, look out, Svend Vonved.
"Svend Vonved" by George Borrow
Beneath the eerie starlight
Their hair shone curd-white;
Their bodies were all twisted like a lichened apple-tree;
Feather-light and swift they moved,
And never one the other loved,
For all were full of ancient dreams and dark designs on me.
"Fairy-Led" by Mary Webb

In news:

A white apron and feather duster does not a costume make, but women everywhere use Halloween as an excuse to dress like a slut.
ROUTT NATIONAL FOREST —The hefty bird burst from behind a bush in a startling eruption of wings and feathers, muted shades of gray and white briefly visible through thinning autumn foliage.
He wears the white satin costume of an eighteenth-century page and in his hand he holds a white satin tricorne with an ostrich feather.
A European fashion craze for the large, white-tipped black tail feathers of the Huia led to the New Zealand bird being declared extinct in the 1920s.
Feather quill and inkwell over white background.
There is a choice of white feathered pullets that lay white shelled eggs or red feathered pullets that lay brown shelled eggs.
The race was over and the jockeys had already slipped off the ostriches' backs when two of the black-and-white feathered giants made a run for it.
I had spotted a nest high up in a white pine tree, so I climbed up into the smaller branches one day and picked a young, black-feathered bird from the nest.
Females of this diving species are brown with a white feather patch at the base of the bill.
The female will line her nest with feathers where she will lay from 7 to 15 white eggs that she will incubate for 30 days.
Like "normal" hummingbirds , leucistic forms have black eyes, feet and bills, but their feathers may be pure white, buff, tan or gray instead of green or some other standard color.
Oh, large, brown, thickly feathered creature with a distinctive white head, you, perched on the top branch of a tree near the lake shore.
Pink, purple and blue free hand design embellished with white feathers.
The White Feathered Octopus, Jonas Friddle and the Majority, and Gilt's basement.
Tom Whiting, owner of Whiting Farms, shows where the feathers used for fly tying are located on the rooster.
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