Definition of precocial
- ducklings are precocial
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precocial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Precocial and its partner altricial are really for the birds. Well, at least they are often used to describe the young of our feathered friends. The chicks of precocial birds can see as soon as they hatch and generally have strong legs and a body covered with fine down. Those are attributes you would expect in birds described by the word precocial, which traces to the Latin precox, a term that means "precocious" or "early ripening" (yes, that root also gave us the word precocious). Ducks, geese, ostriches, pheasants, and quail are among the birds that hatch precocial offspring. Altricial chicks, on the other hand, are basically featherless and helpless at birth and require days or weeks of parental care before becoming independent.
First Known Use: 1869See Words from the same year
What made you want to look up precocial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ