puf·​fin ˈpə-fən How to pronounce puffin (audio)
: any of several seabirds (genera Fratercula and Lunda) of the northern hemisphere having a short neck and a deep grooved parti-colored laterally compressed bill

Illustration of puffin

Illustration of puffin

Examples of puffin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The aquarium features a wide variety of marine life, from water-dwellers like sharks, jellyfish and dolphins to ocean-adjacent species like puffins, turtles and monitor lizards. Natalie Wallington, Kansas City Star, 23 Jan. 2024 Pelicans and puffins grace other imprints of this company, and there was even a ptarmigan series of puzzle books in the 1940s. Caitlin Lovinger, New York Times, 21 Jan. 2024 Today, puffins live on Matinicus as well as Eastern Egg Rock, Seal Island, and Petit Manan Island. Patrick Whittle, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2023 Terns and puffins are expert samplers of juvenile herring, the little 1-year-old fish that will grow big enough to be caught by fishers in a couple of years. Abby McBride, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Dec. 2023 To that end, ecologists and environmentalists recommend not eating puffin or whale — sometimes presented to tourists — and following the leave no trace rule. Kaye Toal, Travel + Leisure, 20 Dec. 2023 Other studies have found that female Arctic ground squirrels are leaving their hibernation burrows earlier in the spring, that African wild dogs are giving birth three weeks later than normal and that puffins are changing their diets to the detriment of their chicks, for example. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Nov. 2023 Getty Images/iStockphoto Authorities have also described moose, salmon, snowshoe hares, American pikas, sea turtles, puffins, Alaskan caribou, piping plovers, polar bears and crocodiles as being at risk from climate change. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 29 Nov. 2023 When electricity was introduced to Vestmannaeyjar, puffins, who navigate using moonlight, became confused and followed the artificial lights inland rather than out to sea. Jessica Bishopp, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English puffoun, poffin, pophyn "young of the shearwater Puffinus puffinus collected as food," probably borrowed from an unattested Middle Cornish cognate of Breton (Léon dialect) pocʼhan, pogan "puffin," (Basse-Cornouaille dialect) bocʼhanig (diminutive), probably a derivative of bocʼh "cheek" (Middle Cornish bogh), of uncertain origin

Note: Breton bocʼh and Middle Cornish bogh may descend from a British Celtic borrowing from Latin bucca "lower part of the cheeks, jaw, puffed-out cheeks," unless this word is itself a Celtic loan.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of puffin was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near puffin

Cite this Entry

“Puffin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puffin. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


puf·​fin ˈpəf-ən How to pronounce puffin (audio)
: any of several seabirds that are related to the auks and have a short thick neck and a deep grooved bill marked with different colors

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