pen·​guin ˈpen-gwən How to pronounce penguin (audio)
: any of various erect short-legged flightless aquatic birds (family Spheniscidae) of the southern hemisphere

Examples of penguin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web She is clearly newly buoyed by the energy of New York—seeing old friends, having her kids visit the penguins at the Central Park Zoo, experiencing the friendly clubbiness of backstage Broadway life for the first time. Chloe Schama, Vogue, 2 Apr. 2024 The penguin’s voice teaches the alphabet and counting, among other educational features. Maya Polton, Parents, 29 Mar. 2024 His imaginary world is filled with odd creatures like witches, scary penguins and iridescent polar bears, where objects suddenly melt, a face might get replaced by a giant rose, or a horrific hand grabs your heel from underground. Yuri Kageyama, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2024 Share [Findings] Humboldt penguins who nest in the open have more pollutant metabolites in their blood than do penguins who nest in guano-rich burrows. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024 Over the last several years, gay penguin couples in zoos in Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States have gone viral for taking care of eggs and raising baby penguins together. Matt Lavietes, NBC News, 29 Feb. 2024 South Africa’s legislative capital offers excellent hiking, a great foodie culture, beautiful (if slightly chilly) Atlantic beaches, penguins and more. Zach Wichter, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2024 There are rooms that could be set aside for avian quarantines, and areas that look like empty showers, which are designed to be filled with water and frozen in case a penguin comes to stay. Claire Fahy, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2024 The letter also cited a USDA report that says a dolphin bit a visitor, as well as findings that the Seaquarium didn’t have enough staff on hand to manage its population of dolphins, manatees, birds, fish, sea lions, penguins and other creatures. Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald, 7 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'penguin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


obsolete English penguin great auk, perhaps from Welsh pen gwyn white head (applied to the bird in winter plumage)

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of penguin was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near penguin

Cite this Entry

“Penguin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pen·​guin ˈpen-gwən How to pronounce penguin (audio)
: any of various short-legged seabirds of the southern hemisphere that cannot fly and have wings functioning as flippers and used in swimming

More from Merriam-Webster on penguin

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