1 of 2

noun (1)

variants or less commonly merl


2 of 2

noun (2)

plural merles
: 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).

: 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

Examples of merle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Biscuit is a Catahoula/Lab mix with beautiful chocolate merle coloring. Joy Jackson, Arkansas Online, 24 Sep. 2023 Several original Lalique merles et raisins (blackbirds and grapes) panels survive. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, 23 Apr. 2023 The test also identifies genes connected to coat patterns such as dark spotting, merle, white spotting, or saddle tan. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 21 Feb. 2022 Pomeranians can also be black, cream, blue, brown, black and white, brindle, merle, black and tan, and tricolor, to name just a few of the many colors and patterns that make up their palette. Kim Campbell Thornton Andrews McMeel, Star Tribune, 22 Jan. 2021 Zeus, who is gray and brown, was born to a merle sire and brindle dam and was the largest puppy in a litter of five. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 7 May 2022 Billy, a merle pug mix, was adopted by his family during the pandemic., 2 Sep. 2020 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

origin unknown

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1905, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near merle

Cite this Entry

“Merle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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