gan·net | \ˈga-nət \
plural gannets also gannet

Definition of gannet 

: any of a genus (Morus of the family Sulidae, the gannet family) of large fish-eating seabirds that breed in colonies chiefly on offshore islands

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There are three oceanic bird species called gannet. They are found in the North Atlantic, where they are the largest seabirds, and in temperate seas around Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The adults are mainly white with black-tipped wing feathers and a large, yellowish or buff-colored head, with black around the eyes. They have a tapered beak and pointed tail. They dive with half-closed wings to catch fish and squid. They waddle on land, but are expert fliers, spending most of their lives over water. They nest in dense colonies on cliffs. The largest species is the 40-in (100-cm) northern gannet.

Examples of gannet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

If the idea of clinging to a ledge all night on Boreray appears to be daunting, how about this one of Gillies’s father harvesting gannets on Stac Lee, a precipitous sea stack all of six acres in area, near Boreray? Neel Mukherjee, New York Times, "A Veritable No Man’s Land, Off the Coast of Scotland," 7 May 2018 Nigel, a handsome gannet bird who lived on a desolate island off the coast of New Zealand, died suddenly this week. Author: Karin Brulliard, Anchorage Daily News, "Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved," 3 Feb. 2018 Don’t miss: From September to May, Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest accessible mainland gannet bird hatching ground; make sure to take a Can-Am tour to see the colony. Jessica Flint, WSJ, "The Hedge Fund Pioneer Turned Accidental Luxury Hotelier," 19 June 2018 But types of gannets have settled all over the world, including in Scotland. Yonette Joseph, New York Times, "The Life and Death of Nigel, the World’s Loneliest Seabird," 4 Feb. 2018 In the 1990s, conservationists set up concrete gannets on the western side of Mana to lure real birds. Yonette Joseph, New York Times, "The Life and Death of Nigel, the World’s Loneliest Seabird," 4 Feb. 2018 Perhaps the saddest twist to this tale is that three other gannets settled on Mana last month, after conservation officials tweaked the sound system used to attract them, according to the New Zealand website Stuff. Author: Karin Brulliard, Anchorage Daily News, "Nigel, the world’s loneliest bird, dies next to the concrete decoy he loved," 3 Feb. 2018 Little Skellig, where boats are not allowed to land, is a seabird sanctuary to one of the largest colonies in the world of northern gannets. Julia Blakely, Smithsonian, "The True History of Luke Skywalker’s Monastic Retreat," 11 Jan. 2018 Viking Age explorers followed ocean foragers such as guillemots and gannets to new shores. Cheryl Katz, Smithsonian, "Disappearing Puffins Bring an Icelandic Hunting Tradition Under Scrutiny," 17 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gannet.' 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 gannet

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gannet

Middle English ganate, gante, going back to Old English ganot, ganet "a seabird, probably Morus bassanus," going back to Germanic *ganuta- "gander" (whence Middle Dutch ghent "gander," Old High German ganazzo, ganzo), from *gan- (base of *gan-s- "goose") + *-uta-, suffix of animal names — more at goose entry 1

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Gannett Peak


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6 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for gannet

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

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English Language Learners Definition of gannet

: a large ocean bird that eats fish


gan·net | \ˈga-nət \

Kids Definition of gannet

: a large bird that eats fish and spends much time far from land

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See words that rhyme with gannet Encyclopedia article about gannet

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