Not a Dicky Bird Meaning
Definition: Not a single word; silence.
This can also be spelled dickey bird or dickie bird.
Origin of Not a Dicky Bird
To understand this expression, it is helpful to know the literal meaning of dicky bird. A dicky bird was a generic term for any little bird, such as a sparrow or chickadee, that was common in England in the 1700s.
Dicky bird came to be slang for word due to the common Cockney practice of replacing one word with another rhyming word. Because word rhymed with bird, it was an appropriate substitute. It also is possible that the tweeting sounds of the birds prompted this substitution. This slang likely originated in the 1930s.
Examples of Not a Dicky Bird
Here is an example that involves two college students discussing whether or not a third friend of theirs will show up to the party they are throwing.
Robin: You’re going back to London soon, aren’t you?
Harry: Yes, so I’m throwing myself a goodbye party. Would you like to come?
Robin: Of course! What about Linda? Did you invite her?
Harry: Yes, I sent her a text, but I haven’t heard back.
Robin: Do you mean you haven’t heard back from her about whether or not she’s coming, or you haven’t heard from her at all?
Harry: I haven’t heard a dicky bird from her.
In this dialogue, two coworkers are discussing a secret that one of them knows but the other does not.
Mal: I saw you whispering with Sarah earlier today. Did she tell you what is going on with her and that crazy feud she is having with Rebecca?
Xiomara: Maybe she did. Maybe she didn’t. Either way I can’t tell you about it. She told me her secret because she trusted me.
Mal: Come on. I’ll give you a doughnut if you tell me!
Xiomara: No way! I won’t say a dicky bird to you about this topic.
This excerpt is about how better roads eliminated traffic jams, as well as complaints.
- “From 7am on Griffith Avenue, there would be lines of trucks. Now you come out, and there’s nothing there. It eliminated all of that and there was never a dicky bird again,” he goes on. –Irish Times
This excerpt is about when the British prime minister who resigned.
- The friend said: “He never mentioned it on Saturday. He never said a dicky bird – but why would he? It would be fair to say it caught his friends by surprise. –Telegraph
The idiom tot a dicky bird means not a word, since dicky bird is rhyming Cockney slang for word.