per·​e·​grine ˈper-ə-grən How to pronounce peregrine (audio)
: having a tendency to wander

Did you know?

The current meaning of peregrine has wandered a bit from its earlier meanings. The word originally meant "foreign," as did its Latin predecessor peregrinus. But even before peregrine appeared on its own in English, it was part of the name of that well-known bird of prey, the peregrine falcon. The bird's appellation derives from "falco peregrinus"—literally, "pilgrim falcon" in Medieval Latin. Peregrine falcons typically nest in high places, such as on cliff ledges or, in modern times, city skyscrapers. Because of the nests' inaccessibility, medieval falconers who wanted young peregrine falcons to train had to capture them on their first flights or migratory "pilgrimages." That practice led to a new sense of "peregrine" ("engaged in or traveling on a pilgrimage"), which was later broadened to "wandering."

Examples of peregrine in a Sentence

a loyal cadre of peregrine workers who follow the presidential candidate from primary to primary

Word History


Middle French peregrin, from Medieval Latin peregrinus, from Latin, foreign — more at pilgrim

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of peregrine was in 1599


Dictionary Entries Near peregrine

Cite this Entry

“Peregrine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!