AskDefine | Define wryneck

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wryneck \Wry"neck\, n. (Med.) [1913 Webster]
A twisted or distorted neck; a deformity in which the neck is drawn to one side by a rigid contraction of one of the muscles of the neck; torticollis. [1913 Webster]
a person suffering from torticollis. [PJC]
(Zool.) Any one of several species of Old World birds of the genus Jynx or subfamily Jynginae, allied to the woodpeckers; especially, the common European species (Jynx torguilla); -- so called from its habit of turning the neck around in different directions. Called also cuckoo's mate, snakebird, summer bird, tonguebird, and writheneck. [1913 Webster +PJC]

Word Net



1 an unnatural condition in which the head leans to one side because the neck muscles on that side are contracted [syn: torticollis]
2 Old World woodpecker with a peculiar habit of twisting the neck

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wryneck (plural wrynecks)
  1. Either of two small woodpeckers, Jynx torquilla and Jynx ruficollis, of the Old World that can turn their heads almost 180 degrees.


The wrynecks (genus Jynx) are a small but distinctive group of small Old World woodpeckers.
Like the true woodpeckers, wrynecks have large heads, long tongues which they use to extract their insect prey and zygodactyl feet, with two toes pointing forward, and two backwards. However, they lack the stiff tail feathers that the true woodpeckers use when climbing trees, so they are more likely than their relatives to perch on a branch rather than an upright trunk.
Their bills are shorter and less dagger-like than in the true woodpeckers, but their chief prey is ants and other insects, which they find in decaying wood or almost bare soil. They re-use woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than making their own holes. The eggs are white, as with many hole nesters.
The two species have cryptic plumage, with intricate patterning of greys and browns. The voice is a nasal woodpecker-like call.
These birds get their English name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees. When disturbed at the nest, they use this snake-like head twisting and hissing as a threat display. This odd behaviour led to their use in witchcraft, hence to put a "jinx" on someone.
There are two species:
wryneck in Bulgarian: Въртошийка
wryneck in Czech: Krutihlav obecný
wryneck in Danish: Vendehals
wryneck in German: Wendehals (Vogel)
wryneck in Esperanto: Eŭrazia koltordulo
wryneck in Spanish: Jynx torquilla
wryneck in Finnish: Käenpiika
wryneck in French: Torcol fourmilier
wryneck in Hebrew: סבראש
wryneck in Hungarian: Nyaktekercs
wryneck in Italian: Jynx torquilla
wryneck in Japanese: アリスイ亜科 (Sibley)
wryneck in Korean: 개미잡이
wryneck in Lithuanian: Grąžiagalvė
wryneck in Dutch: Draaihals
wryneck in Norwegian: Vendehals
wryneck in Polish: Krętogłów
wryneck in Portuguese: Torcicolo
wryneck in Russian: Вертишейки
wryneck in Slovak: Krutihlav hnedý
wryneck in Swedish: Göktyta
wryneck in Turkish: Bayağı boyunburan
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