\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

Today’s finding, via Chappell Ellison on Twitter, is that a hot naked man chest is acceptable only if accompanied by an owl wearing a hat. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Kevin Hart tweeted himself out of a job hosting the Oscars," 8 Dec. 2018 Specifically, Pollard claimed that an attack by an owl led to Kathleen tumbling down the stairs to her death. refinery29.com, "The Infamous Staircase Owl Theory, Explained," 15 June 2018 Perhaps most bizarrely, in recent years, some argued publicly that Kathleen had been fatally attacked by an owl. Adam Carlson, PEOPLE.com, "The Final Answer to a 16-Year Murder Mystery: Did Noted Novelist Kill His Wife in Their Mansion?," 18 Apr. 2018 Commonly mistaken for owls, the tawny frogmouth has a big mouth and assumes a stick-like posture when threatened. Clare Ansberry, WSJ, "Sloths Hot, Armadillos Not: Zoos Seek Affection for Overlooked Species," 29 Mar. 2018 Dead trees, also known as snags, provide nesting sites for owls, bats, and squirrels and offer a plethora of insect foods for woodpeckers. Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "How To Attract Woodpeckers To Your Yard (And Why You'd Want To)," 13 June 2017 An amphitheater hosts a Birds of Prey show, where hawks, owls and other winged predators swoop over the audience. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Bearizona: Top things to do at drive-thru wildlife park in Williams," 12 July 2018 The post has also inspired a slew of responses about what the owls are likely observing. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Owls born outside office window are having a hoot staring at workers inside," 19 Apr. 2018 Hawks, falcons, owls and other raptors show off their soaring and hunting skills. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Bearizona: Top things to do at drive-thru wildlife park in Williams," 12 July 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

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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More from Merriam-Webster on owl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with owl

Spanish Central: Translation of owl

Nglish: Translation of owl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of owl for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about owl

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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