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The magpie is traditionally attracted by bright objects which it can steal. It is used in similes or comparisons to refer to a person who collects things, especially of little use or value, or a person who chatters idly. In traditional belief, it was also sometimes regarded as a bird of ill-omen, as in the saying one for sorrow.

The name is recorded from the late 16th century, and is probably a shortening of dialect maggot the pie, maggoty-pie, from Magot (Middle English pet form of the given name Marguerite) + pie (ultimately from Latin pica ‘magpie’).

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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