gan·​net | \ ˈga-nət How to pronounce gannet (audio) \
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 That statistic includes common loons, northern gannets, double-crested cormorants, royal terns, Wilson’s plovers, black skimmers, and seaside sparrows, to name a few. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 17 Apr. 2020 Marine birds also included mallards, common scoters (a large sea duck), geese, cormorants, gannets, shags, auks, egrets and loons. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "European Neanderthals ate fresh seafood, which may have given their brains a boost," 26 Mar. 2020 Andrew’s Point in Gloucester : There was a dickcissel along with good numbers of seabirds such as three Forester’s terns and 175 Northern gannets., "Bird sightings across the region," 19 Aug. 2019 At Gooseberry Neck, there were 84 black scoters, three ruddy turnstones, three roseate terns, a great shearwater, a Northern gannet, two cliff swallows, and two orchard orioles., "Bird sightings across the region," 30 June 2019 Robertson père got 6,000 acres of undulating pastureland and forest atop craggy sea cliffs, one of which is home to the world’s largest mainland colony of gannets. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "We Should All Just Move to New Zealand," 17 Jan. 2019 Look out on the cliffs below the trail for breeding pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, as well as the lonely northern gannet. Jill K. Robinson,, "5 places to spot birds in Half Moon Bay," 12 July 2018 Nigel accepted the invitation, arriving in 2013 as the island's first gannet in 40 years. The Washington Post,, "Nigel, world's loneliest bird, dies next to concrete decoy it loved," 3 Feb. 2018 Seabirds like boobies, gannets, and the vulnerable crested tern have flocked to the new island for nesting, and their deposits of poop and feathers are beginning the process that will one day cover the island in soil where plants can grow. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Japan's Nishinoshima Island Is Younger Than Princess Charlotte," 13 Aug. 2018

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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Time Traveler for gannet

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

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Cite this Entry

“Gannet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for gannet


How to pronounce gannet (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gannet

: a large ocean bird that eats fish


gan·​net | \ ˈga-nət How to pronounce gannet (audio) \

Kids Definition of gannet

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

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