noun (1)
\ ˈmər(-ə)l How to pronounce merle (audio) \
variants: or less commonly merl

Definition of merle

 (Entry 1 of 2)


noun (2)
plural merles

Definition of merle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a coat color pattern of some dogs (such as the border collie, dachshund, and Great Dane) that consists of a typically bluish- or reddish-gray mixed with splotches of black or reddish- brown and that occurs as a result of the lightening or dilution of the normal base coat color so that only dark patches of normal melanin remain The breed's colors are black or gray or blue merle with white points …— Patricia Bennett Hoffman

Note: Merle is produced by a semidominant gene and may be accompanied by usually blue eyes and defects in hearing and sight. Merle is considered a standard coat pattern by the American Kennel Club for several breeds of dog (such as the Shetland sheepdog).

2 : a dog displaying the coat color pattern of merle Personally, I believe the present standard allows sable merles to be shown.— Marcia K. Keller Blue merles frequently have one or both eyes blue flecked or blue.— Suzanne Troy

First Known Use of merle

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1905, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for merle

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin merulus; akin to Old English ōsle blackbird, Old High German amsla

Noun (2)

origin unknown

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The first known use of merle was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Merle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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