: any of several black-and-white short-necked diving seabirds of the alcid family that breed in colder parts of the northern hemisphere compare great auk

Illustration of auk

Illustration of auk

Examples of auk in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Musk ox and auk. Carl Hoffman, Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2023 But around the early 16th century, when European seaman discovered the large auk populations of Newfoundland, the killing of the birds reached rapacious levels. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, 28 Nov. 2019 Further back in history, the larger auk species played an important part in colonization and the economy of the Arctic. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 24 June 2018 Man has long imperilled beast, as reflected by the extinction of the passenger pigeon, great auk, and Tasmanian tiger. Hannah Beech, The New Yorker, 30 Apr. 2017 Another big bird that's no longer with us is the great auk—a favorite of Bill Rapley, the Toronto Zoo's executive director of conservation. Michael Doolittle, National Geographic, 16 Apr. 2016

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

Word History


Norwegian or Icelandic alk, alka, from Old Norse ālka

First Known Use

1674, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of auk was in 1674

Dictionary Entries Near auk

Cite this Entry

“Auk.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/auk. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: any of several black-and-white short-necked diving seabirds that breed in colder parts of the northern hemisphere

More from Merriam-Webster on auk

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