ra·​ven | \ ˈrā-vən How to pronounce raven (audio) \

Definition of raven

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a large, glossy-black bird (Corvus corax) that is widely distributed in northern parts of the northern hemisphere but now rare in most areas of the eastern and central U.S. and that differs from the closely related common crow chiefly in its larger size and wedge-shaped tail and in having the feathers of the throat narrow and pointed resulting in a shaggy appearance also : any of various usually large and glossy black, corvine birds



Definition of raven (Entry 2 of 3)

: shiny and black like a raven's feathers raven hair


rav·​en | \ ˈra-vən How to pronounce raven (audio) \
ravened; ravening\ ˈra-​və-​niŋ How to pronounce raven (audio) , ˈrav-​niŋ \

Definition of raven (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to feed greedily
2 : to prowl for food : prey
3 : plunder

transitive verb

1 : to devour greedily
2 : despoil men … raven the earth, destroying its resourcesNew Yorker

Illustration of raven

Illustration of raven


In the meaning defined above

Other Words from raven


ravener \ ˈra-​və-​nər How to pronounce raven (audio) , ˈrav-​nər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for raven

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of raven in a Sentence

Adjective a black satin dress that matches her silky, raven hair Verb the rat ravened the poisoned bait just as we had hoped
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Martha’s Vineyard: A piping plover, a common raven, and a white-eyed vireo were seen at Gay Head. BostonGlobe.com, 25 Sep. 2021 His battle standard, white silk bearing the image of a black raven, became known as Land-Waster. Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2021 In Northwest Coast mythology, the raven brings fire and light to the world. James Deutsch, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 June 2021 More than a year ago, Olani Saunoa was buckling her toddler into a car seat when a raven swooped in and grabbed a package of short ribs from her car. Andrews Mcmeel Syndication, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 The Google Doodle features Peratrovich speaking into a microphone at a podium with a raven behind her, representing her Lukaax̱.ádi clan — a Raven moiety. Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, 31 Dec. 2020 Other unlikely companions follow, including a garrulous raven, two contentious mallards, a lonely rat and a handful of kind humans. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, 4 Dec. 2020 The raven is an omen of good luck to the Koyukon Indians. Philip Caputo, Field & Stream, 22 Nov. 2020 The raven is an important mythological figure in Alaska Native and American Indian cultures, symbolizing, among other things, creation and transformation. Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Every traveler who passes through the park encounters a panorama ruled by geology, where rabbitbrush, raven and rock art are accents, where the layers of earth history overwhelm every other element of the scenery. The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Oct. 2021 In the video, the raven grabs and pecks at the drone, but the device still makes its delivery in Harrison, a neighborhood of Canberra, Australia. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, 28 Sep. 2021 French-born, raven-haired and loquacious, the Vestiaire Collective and William Vintage alum is a vintage hunter par excellence. Ellie Pithers, Vogue, 24 Sep. 2021 One of them stuck his finger through the cage, and the raven pecked at it in a perfunctory manner. New York Times, 21 Sep. 2021 Age: at least 25, which is apparently very old for a raven, although his age is not his defining characteristic. New York Times, 21 Sep. 2021 There are also some choice bits of spooky jewelry like a skull ring and a raven pendant that can be used as magic item props. Rob Wieland, Forbes, 21 Sep. 2021 Dawn White is petite and often wears her raven hair in two long braids. courier-journal.com, 22 Sep. 2021 Yet, now, her long, raven hair seemed to be failing her. Devon Abelman, Allure, 31 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And finally, Patton Oswalt will be voicing a talking raven named Matthew. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 26 May 2021 On May 19, BBC Breakfast unveiled the name of the Tower of London’s newest royal raven before a national audience. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 May 2021 Fatally, Cichè sees this as a personal quarrel and decides to get his revenge, threading twine through some beans to capture the raven, then torturing it. Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books, 23 Feb. 2021 The authors repeated the same 33 tasks for each raven at four, eight, 12 and 16 months of age. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 10 Dec. 2020 Not a single coal miner was in sight, just a big, black Chihuahuan raven sitting atop a light post. Eric Lipton, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2020 Willyerd also included a more subtle image of a raven in the mural, a nod to a place most Janesville artist know and love, Raven's Wish Art Gallery, located across the river a few blocks away. Frank Schultz, Star Tribune, 14 Sep. 2020 Raven Politics Young ravens that do not have a bonding partner or territory form temporary flocks that congregate at major food resources, such as an animal carcass. Onur Güntürkün, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2020 In the battle over football and brain health, Dr. Camarillo portrays himself as occupying the sensible center, an agnostic caught between ravening ideologues. Michael Powell, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'raven.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of raven


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


1637, in the meaning defined above


1530, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for raven


Middle English, from Old English hræfn; akin to Old High German hraban raven, Latin corvus, Greek korax


Middle French raviner to rush, take by force, from ravine rapine

Learn More About raven

Time Traveler for raven

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near raven




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for raven

Last Updated

5 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Raven.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raven. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for raven



English Language Learners Definition of raven

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bird that has shiny black feathers and looks like a crow but is larger



English Language Learners Definition of raven (Entry 2 of 2)

: shiny and black


ra·​ven | \ ˈrā-vən How to pronounce raven (audio) \

Kids Definition of raven

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large shiny black bird that is larger than the related crow



Kids Definition of raven (Entry 2 of 2)

: shiny and black like a raven's feathers

More from Merriam-Webster on raven

Nglish: Translation of raven for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of raven for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about raven


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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