night·​hawk ˈnīt-ˌhȯk How to pronounce nighthawk (audio)
: any of a genus (Chordeiles and especially C. minor) of North American nightjars related to the whip-poor-will
: a common European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)
: a person who habitually is active late at night

Illustration of nighthawk

Illustration of nighthawk
  • nighthawk 1a

Examples of nighthawk in a Sentence

an all-night diner that is patronized by nighthawks from every segment of society
Recent Examples on the Web Whip-poor-wills and nighthawks, for example, feed on moths and other flying insects at night, foraging when there is less competition with other species. The New York Times Elaine Chen Emily Anthes, New York Times, 18 May 2023 Nantucket: An early common nighthawk at Hummock Pond and 55 roseate terns at Coskata. Isabela Rocha,, 6 May 2023 Across the treatment room another staffer fed a nighthawk. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Nov. 2021 For instance, Antillean nighthawk, May 2003, Florida. Jim Williams, Star Tribune, 8 Dec. 2020 The opening act begins at dusk with the male making what is typically described as a series of distinct nasal peeent sounds (to me the call is more a raspy bzeeent, similar to the nighthawk’s), spaced five or six seconds apart. Tom Fegely, Field & Stream, 13 Apr. 2020 As a nighthawk, Buckley was the black-robed enforcer of the Klan’s code. Washington Post, 5 June 2018 The onetime imperial nighthawk of the Georgia White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan left the hate group in late 2016. Washington Post, 5 June 2018 Heaven’s Door is meant to conjure a broader idea of Dylan that is part Renaissance man, part nighthawk. Ben Sisario,, 2 May 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of nighthawk was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near nighthawk

Cite this Entry

“Nighthawk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


night·​hawk -ˌhȯk How to pronounce nighthawk (audio)
: any of several insect-eating birds that resemble the related whip-poor-will

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