ac·​cip·​i·​ter ak-ˈsi-pə-tər How to pronounce accipiter (audio)
: any of a genus (Accipiter) of medium-sized forest-inhabiting hawks that have short broad wings and a long tail and a characteristic flight pattern of several quick flaps and a glide
accipitrine adjective or noun

Examples of accipiter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These hawks are accipiters: raptors evolved specifically to hunt in the woodland canopy. Dave Taft, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2017 All accipiters, including the sharp-shinned hawk, and its close relative the Cooper’s hawk, have distinctive flight patterns that are useful in identifying them, even at a distance. Dave Taft, New York Times, 19 Oct. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'accipiter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin, "hawk, falcon," altered (probably by assimilation to accipere "to grasp, take, accept") from pre-Latin *acu-petri- "having swift wings," from *acu- (akin to Latin ōcior "swifter," Greek ōkýs "swift") + *petri- (akin to Sanskrit patram "wing, feather") — more at feather entry 1

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of accipiter was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near accipiter

Cite this Entry

“Accipiter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ac·​cip·​i·​ter ak-ˈsip-ət-ər How to pronounce accipiter (audio)
: any of various low-flying hawks that have short wings and long tails

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