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Aug 17, 2017
This week’s theme
Words from animals

This week’s words
dog days
lionize
chicken hawk
blackbird
spread-eagle

chain gang in Australia
Chain gangs, Wyndham, Western Australia, c. 1898-1906 (detail)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

blackbird

PRONUNCIATION:
(BLAK-buhrd)

MEANING:
noun:1. Any of various birds having black plumage.
 2. An indentured laborer or slave kidnapped from the South Pacific.
verb tr.:To kidnap a person to work as an indentured laborer or slave.
verb intr.:To engage in slave trade.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the former use of the term blackbird for someone from the South Pacific islands. From the 1860s to 1904 they were kidnapped to mine guano in Peru and work in sugarcane and cotton plantations in Australia and Fiji, and elsewhere. Earliest documented use: 1350 (for the figurative sense of the word: 1845). Also see shanghai and barbados.
Read more about blackbirding here and here.

USAGE:
“The blackbirded islanders were often promised wages never paid and held as indentured labourers past their promised termination date.”
Tamara McLean; Vanuatu Raps Aust over Blackbirding; The Australian (Sydney, Australia); Mar 22, 2011.

See more usage examples of blackbird in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I have always supported measures and principles and not men. I have acted fearless and independent and I never will regret my course. I would rather be politically buried than to be hypocritically immortalized. -Davy Crockett, frontiersman, soldier, and politician (17 Aug 1786-1836)

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