noun (1)
mer·​lin | \ ˈmər-lən How to pronounce merlin (audio) \

Definition of merlin

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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


noun (2)
Mer·​lin | \ ˈmər-lən How to pronounce Merlin (audio) \

Definition of Merlin (Entry 2 of 2)

: a prophet and magician in Arthurian legend

Examples of merlin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Emperors flew eagles and vultures; kings flew gyrfalcons; and ladies flew merlins, a species favored by Mary, Queen of Scots, in the 16th century. Kate Donnelly, Travel + Leisure, "Discover the Thrill of Falconry at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs," 22 Apr. 2020 There were two Northern harriers and a short-eared owl at Southwick Wildlife Management Area, a rough-legged hawk along Old Greenfield Road in Montague, two merlins along Edendale Street in Springfield, and an Eastern phoebe at the Hadley Cove., "Bird sightings," 2 Feb. 2020 There was a merlin at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester and a Savannah sparrow was seen at the Wine Road agricultural fields in New Braintree., "Bird sightings," 2 Feb. 2020 There were reports of 120 white-winged scoters, five Western sandpipers, three American golden-plovers, three black skimmers, and three merlins., "► Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Stow:," 23 Sep. 2019 Carey said that during October more sharp-shinned hawks, Cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, ospreys, northern harriers, bald eagles, and various species of falcons, such as peregrines, merlins, and kestrels, can be seen migrating., "“They’re power fliers. They head out over open water and island hop to Nantucket, Long Island, and so on. They’re not intimidated by water like buteos are.”," 10 Oct. 2019 Birders should also expect to see arriving winter raptors like ferruginous hawks, sharp-shinned hawks and merlin. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ladder-backed woodpecker is fond of the desert," 19 Sep. 2019 There were also five marbled godwits and two Western sandpipers on Plymouth Beach and a little blue heron and a merlin at Millennium Park in West Roxbury., "Bird sightings," 8 Sep. 2019 Without considering merlins' impact, the piping plover population was otherwise projected to continue rebounding to 91 pairs by 2026. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Endangered piping plover's recovery may get derailed, thanks to another bird," 23 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'merlin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of merlin

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for merlin

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about merlin

Time Traveler for merlin

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for merlin

Last Updated

4 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Merlin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on merlin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with merlin Encyclopedia article about merlin

Comments on merlin

What made you want to look up merlin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!