bes·​ti·​ary ˈbes-chē-ˌer-ē How to pronounce bestiary (audio)
plural bestiaries
: a medieval allegorical or moralizing work on the appearance and habits of real or imaginary animals
: a collection of descriptions or representations of real or imaginary animals
: an array of real humans or literary characters often having symbolic significance
: an unusual or whimsical collection
a truly astounding bestiary of airplane designsPeter Garrison

Examples of bestiary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That creature, in turn, can be traced back to medieval bestiaries as a type of whale called aspidochelone, first mentioned in a 2nd-century CE Alexandrian manuscript called the Physiologus. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Mar. 2023 Though his catalogue of catastrophe is real, what one most remembers are the beasts in his bestiary. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2023 Confidential, precious and poetic qualities infuse her creations that portray a dreamlike universe, from fantastical bestiary to enchanted mineral forest. Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 The one-eyed humans and Sciopods with umbrella feet, the whole exotic bestiary. Tishani Doshi, The New York Review of Books, 25 Mar. 2021 For the house’s third collaboration with the artists, Viard wanted Veilhan to recreate the apartment’s bestiary. Allyson Portee, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Jan. 2023 Designer Virginie Viard collaborated with contemporary artist Xavier Veilhan who used a bestiary in house founder Coco Chanel’s apartment as a creative springboard for the carnival-like spring decor. Thomas Adamson, ajc, 24 Jan. 2023 Penned in the 12th century, the Aberdeen Bestiary’s entry for beavers exhibits the classic medieval bestiary components of observation, imagination and allegory. Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Discover Magazine, 19 Nov. 2013 The Clickers – the most iconic creature / nightmare fuel from the bestiary – become exponentially more terrifying when their echolocation clicking feels like it’s brushing the hair of your neck. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 2 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bestiary was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near bestiary

Cite this Entry

“Bestiary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

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