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

Example Sentences

an all-night diner that is patronized by nighthawks from every segment of society
Recent Examples on the Web 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 But while new to Western science, the behaviors of the nighthawks have long been known to the Alawa, MalakMalak, Jawoyn and other Indigenous peoples of northern Australia whose ancestors occupied their lands for tens of thousands of years. George Nicholas, Smithsonian, 22 Feb. 2018 An animal control officer identified the injured bird as a nighthawk. Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2017 See More

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

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 25 Mar. 2023.

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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