a little bird told me


a little bird told me


  • to receive information from a secret source.
  • used when a person is trying to hide the source of their information.
  • indicates that the person knows something that is a secret and wants to withhold the identity of the person who let him know about it.
  • a teasing manner of saying that you do not intend to reveal how you know something.

Example Sentences

  1. I’d like to believe that a little birdie told you about my secret, but I know exactly who it was that let you in on it.
  2. A little bird told me that today is your wedding anniversary.
  3. A little bird has told me all about your journey to New York.


Messenger birds and pigeons may have been the source for this phrase. It has been used in the Holy Bible too, in Ecclesiastes 10:20. John Heywood explained a slightly different version in 1562, which was edited again in 1906.

The phrase also appears in the Norse legend where Sigurd could hear and understand the birds after he slew the dragon Fafnir. The birds warned him that Regin would kill him. Sir Richard Wagner also used birds, instructing him to steal a helmet and ring through a small song. The communication of and with the birds is speculated as a source of origin or at least popularity of the phrase.

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