\ˈau̇(-ə)l \

Definition of owl 

: any of an order (Strigiformes) of chiefly nocturnal birds of prey with a large head and eyes, short hooked bill, strong talons, and soft fluffy often brown-mottled plumage

Examples of owl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The infamous owl theory For years, Michael Peterson and his supporters fought his conviction. Bethonie Butler, chicagotribune.com, "Netflix's 'The Staircase': The long, sensational murder trial behind the new series," 11 June 2018 Short of stature, with an owl-like face, Mr. Tuck was described by some as having the look, and often the demeanor, of a leprechaun. Tom Hamburger, Washington Post, "Dick Tuck, Democratic prankster who targeted Nixon, dies at 94," 29 May 2018 The birds are the heaviest owl in North America, ranging from 3 to 6 pounds. Fox News, "Rare snowy owl found in famed New York City jail," 4 July 2018 Orlando Science Center goes into night-owl mode again this summer with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 11. Dewayne Bevil, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Orlando Science Center plans late nights, stargazing sessions," 3 July 2018 The Stanford Laptop Orchestra meets to rehearse every Wednesday night in the spring from 7:30 to 10:30 pm (The late hours are a remnant of Wang's night-owl habits as a graduate student. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "The Aural Magic of Stanford's Laptop Orchestra," 8 June 2018 Night-owls and others who prefer a light-on-dark appearance can now take advantage of an official dark theme for the entire OS. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple announces macOS 10.14 “Mojave”," 4 June 2018 These immobile, tubular structures sit on the front of an owl’s face like a pair of built-in binoculars. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Owls See the World Much Like We Do," 3 July 2018 From shadow under the eave, cuts and spreads vermillion across the barn's weathered crust, dots a highlight with fine point in the eye of an owl. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "The Poems Of Aaron Caycedo-Kimura: Honoring Ones Parents," 13 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of owl

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for owl

Middle English owle, from Old English ūle; akin to Old High German uwila owl

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Dictionary Entries near owl


owing to



owl's clover

owl butterfly


Statistics for owl

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for owl

The first known use of owl was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for owl



English Language Learners Definition of owl

: a bird that usually hunts at night and that has a large head and eyes, a powerful hooked beak, and strong claws


\ˈau̇l \

Kids Definition of owl

: a large bird with big head and eyes, hooked bill, and strong claws that is active at night and feeds on small animals

Other Words from owl

owlish adjective

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Comments on owl

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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