\ 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

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 That includes not only planting the trees but using the grant money to purchase gator bags, stakes and deer guards. John Benson, cleveland, "Parma Heights using Cuyahoga County grant to plant 150 new trees," 16 Apr. 2021 The flowers are favorites of pollinators, yet the oniony scent of the foliage can deter deer and rabbits. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "These 6 plants were just named some of the best in the US. Here's how to grow them," 16 Apr. 2021 After surveying the spring and recording his observations on a tablet, Rosso walked uphill to another water source, a seep that formed a muddy puddle among bushes and deer grass. azcentral, "Trump's border wall scarred sacred lands, displaced wildlife and drained water. Can it be taken down?," 15 Apr. 2021 All hunting categories except antlerless deer surged. Matt Wyatt, San Antonio Express-News, "License sales show hunting, fishing renaissance amid pandemic," 15 Apr. 2021 The cats roam through habitats in the borderlands, preying on deer and other animals., "Trail cameras reveal more than 100 wildlife species along Arizona's southern borderlands," 15 Apr. 2021 Once planted, make sure they are guarded against rabbits and deer. Washington Post, "The sturdy, steadfast oak is the perfect tree for troubled times," 14 Apr. 2021 Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car from situations outside your control, like vandalism, theft or a deer collision. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, "How much car insurance do you really need?," 13 Apr. 2021 The warden then heard a gunshot, saw the deer buckle then run off, followed by Piontek and John Tussler, with a flashlight. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former judge can avoid conviction for illegal deer shining, but gives up rifle, this year's hunting privileges and $544.50," 13 Apr. 2021

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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Statistics for deer

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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 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

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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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