pel·​i·​can | \ ˈpe-li-kən How to pronounce pelican (audio) \

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 But what of the pelicans of the exhibition’s title? B.r., The Economist, "The violent history of London’s Royal Parks," 22 Nov. 2019 Fish kills is a general term the FWC uses to describe marine life and fatalities have included a large amount of mullet and catfish, but also at least one sea turtle, crabs, sea snakes and at least one pelican. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Red tide grew drastically along Florida’s west coast in less than a month," 18 Nov. 2019 In August, spotbilled pelicans, painted storks, and Asian open bills dominate for a couple of months. Bahar Dutt, Quartz India, "Two Indian cities lead the way in transforming concrete jungles into real jungles," 22 Oct. 2019 Liz Langley looks at other food storers, from pitcher plants to pelicans to chipmunks. National Geographic, "Where do your backyard birds migrate in the winter?," 7 Nov. 2019 Inside was a great white pelican that had died of a bacterial infection in captivity. oregonlive, "Creepy creatures turn ‘Exquisite’ at new OMSI art exhibit," 3 Nov. 2019 The lone holdout is Gerald, the flightless one-winged pelican the staff have somewhat adopted. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "This classroom on a Chesapeake Bay island taught generations of students. As the sea rises, its doors are closing.," 31 Oct. 2019 After posting a photo of her kids with a pelican, Pink deleted the original post after a barrage of people criticized her for circumcising her son, who was pictured without a diaper. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Pink vs. mom-shamers: Here are the singer's most epic take-downs of the parent police," 8 Sep. 2019 The Big Lake Wildlife Management Area is a nesting area for dozens of species of ducks, Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, shorebirds, gulls, pelicans and other waterfowl, according to the state's FWP. David Williams, CNN, "Thousands of birds killed in a Montana hailstorm," 23 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for pelican

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pelican

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Pelican.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 8 December 2019.

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More Definitions for pelican


How to pronounce pelican (audio)

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 How to pronounce pelican (audio) \

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

Comments on pelican

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


to constrict the range or activity of

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