\ˈdir \
plural deer also deers

Definition of deer 

1 archaic : animal especially : a small mammal

2 : any of numerous, slender-legged, even-toed, ruminant mammals (family Cervidae, the deer family) having usually brownish fur and antlers borne by the males of nearly all and by the females of a few forms

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Other Words from deer

deerlike \-ˌlīk \ adjective

Did You Know?

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

During hunting season, October to late January, Mr. Edwards and a group of about six local men dedicate their time to harvesting female deer in the North Fork area. Lara Korte, WSJ, "Long Islanders Take Shelter From Tick Threat This Summer," 1 July 2018 Authorities have removed arrows from the face and body of a pair of deer in the Shady Cove area, according to the Oregon State Police. Jim Ryan,, "Authorities remove arrows from impaled deer," 3 May 2018 Scott said officials removed the remains of the deer to reduce the chance of more trailside wildlife encounters. Author: Jeremy Hsieh, Anchorage Daily News, "Wolf that killed dog along Juneau trail likely protecting deer kill, official says," 2 May 2018 On top of that, neither municipality has seen a noticeable reduction in the number of deer. Jordyn Noennig, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The deer population is overwhelming Lake Country. Here are some ways you can keep them away.," 12 July 2018 Purcell has posted photos and videos of the deer for two days and reached out to several nonprofits in the hopes of helping the animal. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Deer in distress from peanut butter jar is freed, Placer resident says," 12 July 2018 And despite online accounts, wildlife officials found no evidence of a dead deer mauled by a tiger, and no tiger tracks. Teri Figueroa,, "Fake news? Reports of a tiger roaming in East County are false, officials say," 2 July 2018 Typically, the snakes feed on mammals (up to the size of deer) and birds, but they've been seen eating more dangerous targets like alligators. National Geographic, "Python Swallows Woman Whole—What Experts Say About the Rare Attack," 18 June 2018 Visitors with food cups are quickly immersed in a phalanx of gregarious deer. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Arizona road trip: Williams has Route 66, Bearizona and cool summer fun," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for deer

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deer

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

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More Definitions for deer



English Language Learners Definition of deer

: a large wild animal that has four long thin legs, brown fur, and antlers if male


\ˈdir \
plural deer

Kids Definition of deer

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

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Comments on deer

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one that holds something together

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