pel·​i·​can | \ ˈpe-li-kən \

Definition of pelican 

: any of a genus (Pelecanus) of large web-footed fish-eating birds with a very large bill and distensible gular pouch

Examples of pelican in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Louisiana One features an artist's rendition of the state flag, complete with a large mother pelican and her trio of hungry young. Laura Mcknight,, "Southwest's Louisiana One gives the state bird new wings," 8 Mar. 2018 Maybe Pepperdine University needs to adopt a pelican as its mascot after the school’s graduation Saturday. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Pelicans crash university’s graduation ceremony," 1 May 2018 Rather than a flurry of feathers, the pelicans waddled out slowly, unsure of their new surroundings. Erin Stone,, "Once injured, starving pelicans are rehabilitated, freed on San Francisco Bay shoreline," 29 June 2018 What do a golden VW bus, a pink pelican and a charcoal drawing of palm trees on fire all have in common? Patrick Connolly,, "Off-the-wall works at Orlando Museum's Florida Prize," 31 May 2018 Boat tours run by the King Fisher Fleet out of Punta Gorda -- – often provide good views of white pelicans. Bonnie Gross,, "Explore Florida's Charlotte County: White pelicans in Charlotte Harbor," 6 May 2018 Easier yet: feeding the insistent pelicans urging you to fork over some of that fish food to them. Rosemary Mcclure,, "Hurricane Irma pounded the Florida Keys, but now they're back — some say better than ever," 29 Apr. 2018 The hallway walls of the rehabilitation building feature picture after picture of successful animal releases, from white pelicans and sea turtles to hawks and other raptors. Alex Stuckey, San Antonio Express-News, "Texas State Aquarium doubles down on wildlife rescue, rehabilitation after Harvey," 3 June 2018 Southwest Airlines' new plane puts the state bird in flight, with a nurturing pelican spreading her feathers over a Boeing 737-700 dedicated to the Bayou State. Laura Mcknight,, "Southwest's Louisiana One gives the state bird new wings," 8 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pelican.' 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 pelican

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pelican

Middle English, from Old English pellican, from Late Latin pelecanus, from Greek pelekan

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Statistics for pelican

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for pelican

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

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More Definitions for pelican



English Language Learners Definition of pelican

: a large ocean bird that has a large bag that is part of its lower bill for catching and holding fish


pel·​i·​can | \ ˈpe-li-kən \

Kids Definition of pelican

: a large bird with webbed feet and a very large bill having a pouch on the lower part used to scoop in fish for food

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More from Merriam-Webster on pelican

Spanish Central: Translation of pelican

Nglish: Translation of pelican for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pelican for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pelican

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