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noun (1)

mer·​lin ˈmər-lən How to pronounce merlin (audio)
: a small compact falcon (Falco columbarius) of the northern hemisphere having a broad dark terminal band on the tail and upperparts that are slate blue in males and brown in females


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noun (2)

Mer·​lin ˈmər-lən How to pronounce Merlin (audio)
: a prophet and magician in Arthurian legend

Examples of merlin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
One parent was killed by a merlin, a small falcon that lives throughout the Great Lakes region. Sheryl Devore, Chicago Tribune, 13 Sep. 2023 Other Plum Island sightings were highlighted by an unseasonal merlin and a red-necked phalarope., 5 Aug. 2023 An American white pelican at Big Pond in Otis, two merlins in Dalton, a least bittern in the marsh off Town Beach Road in Richmond, and single hooded warblers at the Hopkins Memorial Forest and the Dry Hill reservation in New Marlborough. Isabela Rocha,, 1 July 2023 Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota have developed population models to show how controlling merlin and other nest predator populations could reduce the piping plover's risk of extinction, according to the Smithsonian. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 21 Apr. 2023 Berkshire County: a least bittern in Pittsfield on Town Beach Road, a merlin in Great Barrington, nine red crossbills in Williamstown, and two Acadian flycatchers in South Egremont., 30 July 2022 Birds at Race Point in Provincetown included 2 black vultures, 2 Pacific loons, 130 red-throated loons, a Manx shearwater, 11 common murres, 62 razorbills, 9 Iceland gulls, and a merlin., 20 Apr. 2022 The region continued to host a summer tanager at a feeder at 73 Hadley Road in Sunderland, two black vultures in Greenfield, two Iceland gulls at Turners Falls, and a merlin in Orange., 29 Jan. 2022 At Plum Island, a merlin was noted along with an early dunlin and black guillemots; single black guillemots were also seen at Andrews Point in Rockport and in Gloucester Harbor., 31 July 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'merlin.' 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 merlioun, from Anglo-French merilun, alteration of esmerilun, diminutive of Old French esmeril, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German smiril merlin

Noun (2)

Medieval Latin Merlinus, from Middle Welsh Myrddin

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of merlin was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near merlin

Cite this Entry

“Merlin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

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