plural horns
1
a
: one of the usually paired bony processes that arise from the head of many ungulates and that are found in some extinct mammals and reptiles: such as
(1)
: one of the permanent paired hollow sheaths of keratin usually present in both sexes of cattle and their relatives that function chiefly for defense and arise from a bony core anchored to the skull see cow illustration
(2)
: antler
(3)
: a permanent solid horn of keratin that is attached to the nasal bone of a rhinoceros
(4)
: one of a pair of permanent bone protuberances from the skull of a giraffe or okapi that are covered with hairy skin
b
: a part like an animal's horn attributed especially to the devil
c
: a natural projection or excrescence from an animal resembling or suggestive of a horn
d(1)
: the tough fibrous material consisting chiefly of keratin that covers or forms the horns of cattle and related animals, hooves, or other horny parts (such as claws or nails)
(2)
: a manufactured product (such as a plastic) resembling horn
e
: a hollow horn used to hold something
2
: something resembling or suggestive of a horn: such as
a
: one of the curved ends of a crescent
b
: a sharp mountain peak
c
: a body of land or water shaped like a horn
d
: a beak-shaped part of an anvil
e
: a high pommel of a saddle
f
: cornu
3
a
: an animal's horn used as a wind instrument
b
: a brass wind instrument: such as
(1)
(2)
c
: a wind instrument used in a jazz band
especially : trumpet
d
: a usually electrical device that makes a noise like that of a horn
4
: a source of strength
5
: one of the equally disadvantageous alternatives presented by a dilemma
6
slang : telephone
horn adjective
horned
ˈhȯrnd How to pronounce horn (audio)
 also  ˈhȯr-nəd
adjective
hornedness
ˈhȯr-nəd-nəs How to pronounce horn (audio)
ˈhȯrn(d)-nəs
noun
hornless adjective
hornlessness noun
hornlike adjective

Examples of horn in a Sentence

musketeers carrying their gunpowder in powder horns
Recent Examples on the Web Amelia Earhart’s Lost Plane May Have Been Found, Says Pilot Who Spent $11 Million to Fund Search The ship was battered in the storm, and on May 1, the crew woke up in the early hours of the morning to a blaring horn. Bailey Richards, Peoplemag, 14 Feb. 2024 When playing jab, the body is covered with black molasses, oil, or charcoal, and horns and chains, symbolizing the defiance of slavery and colonial oppression, are worn. Melissa Noel, Essence, 13 Feb. 2024 The finale featured an entourage of backing musicians scattered throughout the field and stage and included a massive horn section as Ludacris also dropped his verse from Usher’s massive hit. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 11 Feb. 2024 On Saturday a passerby ripped a plastic horn out of the hands of one protester, Nolasco said. Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 To demonstrate those qualities, Le Caine created a synthesizer that mimicked, among other things, a brass horn known as the sackbut. IEEE Spectrum, 1 Feb. 2024 Short, rounded horns sprouted from its head, small wings from its back. Chris Wheatley, Longreads, 18 Jan. 2024 Demonstrators rolled into Brussels in their tractors in the early morning hours before gathering outside the European Parliament where the summit was being held, blaring horns, hurling eggs and sparking fires. Sophie Tanno, CNN, 1 Feb. 2024 Advertisement Transportation Hearing more train horns downtown than usual? Emily Alvarenga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'horn.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, going back to Old English, going back to Germanic *hurna- (whence also Old Frisian, Old High German & Old Norse horn "horn," Gothic haurn), going back to Indo-European *ḱr̥-n-o, perhaps originally "object made of bony material from the head" (whence also Latin cornum, cornū "horn," Welsh carn "hoof, hilt, handle," Breton karn "hoof," and, with an additional velar suffix, Sanskrit śŕ̥ṅgam "horn"), derivative of a base *ḱer-, elsewhere with laryngeal element *ḱer-h2- "bony material constituting the skull or horns" — more at kerato-

Note: Also in Germanic *her-uta- "stag, hart, deer"—see hart. The Latin u-stem cornū perhaps reflects an earlier *korū̆ merged with *korno- (see Alan Nussbaum, Head and Horn in Indo-European, Berlin, 1986, p. 4).

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of horn was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near horn

Cite this Entry

“Horn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horn. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

horn

noun
1
: one of the hard bony growths on the head of many hoofed animals (as cattle, goats, or sheep)
2
: a part like an animal's horn
3
: the material of which horns are composed or a similar material
4
: a hollow horn used to hold something
powder horn
5
: something resembling a horn
saddle horn
horns of the crescent moon
6
a
: a brass wind instrument (as a trumpet or French horn)
b
: a device that makes a noise like that of a horn
an automobile horn
horned adjective
hornless adjective
hornlike adjective

Medical Definition

horn

noun
1
a
: one of the usually paired bony processes that arise from the head of many ungulates and that are found in some extinct mammals and reptiles
especially : one of the permanent paired hollow sheaths of keratin usually present in both sexes of cattle and their relatives that function chiefly for defense and arise from a bony core anchored to the skull
b
: the tough fibrous material consisting chiefly of keratin that covers or forms the horns of cattle and related animals, hooves, or other horny parts (as claws or nails)
2
: cornu
horned adjective

Geographical Definition

Horn

geographical name

variants or North Cape
cape just south of the Arctic Circle in northwestern Iceland

More from Merriam-Webster on horn

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