\ ˈdir How to pronounce deer (audio) \
plural deer also deers

Definition of deer

1 : any of various slender-legged, even-toed, ruminant mammals (family Cervidae, the deer family) having usually brownish fur and deciduous antlers borne by the males of nearly all and by the females only of the caribou : cervid
2 archaic : animal especially : a small mammal

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Other Words from deer

deerlike \ ˈdir-​ˌlīk How to pronounce deer (audio) \ adjective

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The meaning of a word often develops from the general to the specific. For instance, deer is used in modern English to mean several related forms of an animal species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The Old English deor, however, could refer to any animal, tame or wild, or to wild animals in general. In time, deer came to be used only for wild animals that were hunted, and then for the red deer, once widely hunted in England. From that usage the term has spread to related animals, becoming somewhat more general again.

Examples of deer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And his longtime cinematographer Rob Hardy frames every shot with an almost painterly reverence, from a field of shivering bluebells to the maggots writhing in a dead deer's eye. Leah Greenblatt,, 9 May 2022 Some gardeners see it as a very large salvia, and in fact, just like salvia, deer do not eat it. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 6 May 2022 There are about 100,000 fewer deer across Utah than the target population of 400,000, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 May 2022 Lamb’s ear is an evergreen perennial with velvety silver leaves that’s low maintenance and deer resistant. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 May 2022 Compared with past years, Molaei said Tuesday, many more ticks were sent to the Experiment Station’s testing laboratory in 2021, mostly deer ticks that may carry Lyme disease. Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford Courant, 5 May 2022 When Jenn Gubler carries her bowl of granola to the porch in the morning, scuff marks on the ipe wood decking tell her deer visited overnight. Sarah Egge, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 May 2022 But Hustavenes explained that this was now a common occurrence—deer love eating fresh roses from graves. Nick Romeo, The New Yorker, 4 May 2022 On the Grasslands Nature Trail, visitors can even glimpse animals from deer to ghost crabs. Robin Soslow, Chron, 3 May 2022 See More

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

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First Known Use of deer

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deer

Middle English, deer, animal, from Old English dēor beast; akin to Old High German tior wild animal, Lithuanian dvasia breath, spirit

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Time Traveler for deer

Time Traveler

The first known use of deer was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near deer

deep well



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Statistics for deer

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for deer


\ ˈdir How to pronounce deer (audio) \
plural deer

Kids Definition of deer

: a mammal that has cloven hoofs and in the male antlers which are often branched

More from Merriam-Webster on deer

Nglish: Translation of deer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deer for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about deer


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