What Does Birds of a Feather Flock Together Mean?

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Definition: People will spend time with those most similar to themselves.

Origin of Birds of a Feather Flock Together

This idiom was inspired by nature, by the fact that birds of a feather, or birds of the same species, flock together, or group together in flocks to fly or roost. It is uncommon to find birds from two different species flying together without fighting.

birds in a feather flock togetherMost sources point to a text by William Turner in the year 1545 titled The Rescuing of Romish Fox as the first written use of this expression,

Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.

Examples of Birds of a Feather Flock Together

This example shows one woman using the expression to demonstrate to another woman why her daughter is not fitting in at school.

birds of the same feather flock togetherBella: How are things going with your daughter at her new school?

Hannah: She’s still having a terrible time. None of the other girls will hang out with her.

Bella: It will happen eventually. She’s new there. She’s also so different from them.

Hannah: How? They’re all the same age.

Bella: I know. But the other girls probably view her as being an outsider because she’s from a big city, and they’re all from rural areas. You know how they always say birds of a feather flock together? Once they realize they have things in common, it will be much better.

The following example shows how the idiom is used in a conversation about sororities.

Hanh: Don’t all of the women in that sorority look as if they are dressed in the same way?

Zhongyi: They do say that birds of a feather flock together.

Hanh: Actually, I think I remember hearing something about a dress code.

Zhongyi: Oh, that would make sense too.

More Examples

This example, in the opinion section of the newspaper, shows the idiom being used sarcastically to say that everyone named Mike should have the same opinion.

  • Of course, maybe you’re not blaming him because your name is Mike too, and you probably figure that you Mikes have to stick together. Well, as the old saying goes: “Birds of a feather flock together.” –Chicago Tribune

The second example uses the proverb to introduce a study that wants to test if this proverb is scientifically true when relating to humans.

  • “Birds of a feather flock together. We all know this is true at a behavioral level, so we wanted to know if it extended all the way to your DNA,” says study co-author James Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California-San Diego. –USA Today

Summary

Birds of a feather flock together is an English proverb that means people will sort themselves into communities of like-minded individuals.

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