Skip to main content
Select Source:

pigeon

pigeon, common name for members of the large family Columbidae, land birds, cosmopolitan in temperate and tropical regions, characterized by stout bodies, short necks, small heads, and thick, heavy plumage. The names dove and pigeon are used interchangeably, though the former generally refers to smaller members of the family.

All pigeons have soft swellings (ceres) at the base of the nostrils, feed their young with "pigeon's milk" regurgitated from the crops of the parents, and have specialized bills through which they can suck up water steadily, unlike other birds. They eat chiefly fruits and seeds. From ancient times, pigeons—especially homing pigeons, which are also used as racing birds—have been used for carrying messages. Although electronics has largely replaced them as messengers, they are still of experimental importance. It is thought that they may navigate by the sun. Monogamous and amorous, pigeons are known for their soft cooing calls.

The most common American wild pigeon is the small, gray-brown mourning dove Zenaidura macroura (sometimes called turtledove), similar to the once abundant passenger pigeon, which was slaughtered indiscriminately and became extinct in 1914. Other wild American species are the band-tailed, red-billed, and white-crowned pigeons, all of the genus Columba, and the reddish brown ground-doves (genus Columbina). The Australasian region has two thirds of the 289 species of pigeons, of which the fruit pigeons are the most colorful and the gouras, or crowned pigeons, the largest (to 33 in./84 cm). In Europe the turtledove, rock pigeon or dove, stock dove, and ringdove or wood pigeon are common. The rock dove, Columba livia, of temperate Europe and W Asia is the wild progenitor of the common street and domestic pigeons. Domesticated varieties developed by selective breeding include the fantail, with numerous erectile tail feathers; the Jacobin, with a hoodlike ruff; the tumbler, which turns backward somersaults in flight; the pouter, with an enormous crop; and the quarrelsome carrier, with rosettelike eyes and nose wattles.

Many species are valued as game birds; their close relationship to the Gallinae (e.g., pheasants and turkeys) is illustrated by the sand grouse, an Old World pigeon named for its resemblance to the grouse. In religion and art the dove symbolizes peace and gentleness, and in Greek mythology it was sacred to Aphrodite. The long-extinct dodo and solitaire birds were members of this order.

Pigeons are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Columbiformes, family Columbidae.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pigeon

"pigeon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pigeon

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon1 in allusion to its harmlessness and to the fact that it is easily caught, pigeon in extended use means a person who is easily swindled, a dupe.
pigeon-hole a small compartment, open at the front and forming part of a set, where letters or messages may be left for someone, resembling a roosting recess in a loft for domestic pigeons; in figurative use, a category to which someone or something is assigned. In verbal use, to pigeon-hole may now imply assignment to a category or class in a manner that is too rigid or exclusive.
pigeon pair a boy and girl as twins, or as the only children in a family.
pigeon's blood a type of precious stone (usually a ruby or opal) of a dark red colour.

See also put the cat among the pigeons.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pi·geon1 / ˈpijən/ • n. 1. a stout seed- or fruit-eating bird (family Columbidae) with a small head, short legs, and a cooing voice, typically having gray and white plumage. ∎  (also domestic or feral pigeon) a pigeon descended from the wild rock dove, kept for racing, showing, and carrying messages, and common as a feral bird in towns. 2. inf. a gullible person, esp. someone swindled in gambling or the victim of a confidence game. 3. military slang an aircraft from one's own side. pi·geon2 • n. archaic spelling of pidgin.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-2

"pigeon." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon (dove) Any of a large family of wild and domestic birds found throughout temperate and tropical parts of the world, but concentrated in s Asia and the Australian region. Pigeons have small heads, short necks, plump bodies, and scaly legs and feet. Plumage is loose but thick. Length: to 46cm (18in). Family Columbidae; typical genus, Columba.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pigeon

"pigeon." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/pigeon

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon1 †young dove; bird of the family Columbidae XIV; †young woman, girl; dupe, gull XVI. ME. peion, pyion, pegeon — OF. pijon young bird, esp. young dove (mod. pigeon):- Rom. *pībiō, -ōn-, for late L. pīpiō, -ōn-, f. imit. base *pīp-.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-3

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-3

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon Game bird, Columbia livia; young about 4 weeks old is a squab. A 150‐g portion is an extremely rich source of iron, a rich source of protein, niacin, and vitamins B1 and B2; contains 20 g of fat; supplies 350 kcal (1500 kJ).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon

"pigeon." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon2 be someone's pigeon be a person's particular responsibility or business; pigeon here is an archaic spelling of pidgin representing Chinese pronunciation of English business.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-0

"pigeon." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon2 see PIDGIN.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-4

"pigeon." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-4

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

pigeon

pigeon •Aladdin • stand-in •Dunedin, lead-in •Blondin, Girondin •Odin •paladin, Saladin •Borodin • Baffin • elfin •biffin, griffin, tiffin •boffin, coffin •dolphin • endorphin • bowfin •yellowfin •muffin, puffin •ragamuffin • paraffin • perfin •bargain • Begin • Kosygin •hoggin, noggin •imagine • margin • engine •pidgin, pigeon, smidgen, wigeon •stool pigeon • wood pigeon • origin •Pugin • virgin

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"pigeon." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"pigeon." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 14, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-1

"pigeon." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pigeon-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.