bes·​ti·​ary | \ ˈbes-chē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce bestiary (audio) , -ˌe-rē, ˈbesh-, ˈbēs-, ˈbēsh-\
plural bestiaries

Definition of bestiary

1 : a medieval allegorical or moralizing work on the appearance and habits of real or imaginary animals
2a : a collection of descriptions or representations of real or imaginary animals
b : an array of real humans or literary characters often having symbolic significance
3 : an unusual or whimsical collection a truly astounding bestiary of airplane designs— Peter Garrison

Examples of bestiary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

These demons are magical creatures inspired by world mythologies, not unlike Rowling’s own bestiary of fantastic beasts. Constance Grady, Vox, "7 authors tell us how 20 years of Harry Potter shaped their lives," 31 Aug. 2018 These oddities—and undoubtedly many others theorists have yet to even dream of—fill out our universe’s bizarre stellar bestiary. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, "Watch Now: The Weirdest Stars in the Universe," 8 Mar. 2018 Kingdom Animalia is a sprawling, modern-day take on the medieval bestiary. Courant Community, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 18 Sep. 2017 Here’s a bacterium whose genetic material includes genes from a diverse bestiary: Icelandic hyperthermophiles, petunias, yeast, perhaps a bit of bioluminescent jellyfish. Sophia Roosth, Slate Magazine, "What Synthetic Biology Has in Common With Queer Theory," 25 Apr. 2017 The great bestiaries, from Herodotus to Audubon, are all embellished. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Acute Angler," 9 Dec. 2012 The formal exuberance of this modern bestiary is exhilarating. Helen Macdonald, New York Times, "Biographies of Cecil the Lion and Others in ‘Animals Strike Curious Poses’," 13 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bestiary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bestiary

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bestiary

Medieval Latin bestiarium, from Latin, neuter of bestiarius of beasts, from bestia

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bestiary

Dictionary Entries near bestiary








Statistics for bestiary

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bestiary

The first known use of bestiary was in 1817

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on bestiary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bestiary Encyclopedia article about bestiary

Comments on bestiary

What made you want to look up bestiary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!