raven

noun
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

raven

adjective

Definition of raven (Entry 2 of 3)

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

raven

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

Definition of raven (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

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

Illustration of raven

Illustration of raven

Noun

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from raven

Verb

ravener \ ˈra-​və-​nər How to pronounce ravener (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 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, "An Anchorage shelter under lockdown draws on the healing power of art and community," 17 Apr. 2020 The eggs had been scavenged — by ravens, by jays, by squirrels — and Jackie finally carried off one of them, who knows where. Jonah Weiner, New York Times, "How Watching Bald Eagles Build a Nest Prepared Me for the Pandemic," 12 May 2020 Corvids are a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, and magpies—and many are abundant this time of year. Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz, "The Corvid-19 quiz: Test your knowledge of the birds, not Covid-19," 6 Apr. 2020 Like other corvids—a family that includes jays, ravens, crows, and magpies—this species is very vocal, and will use different alarm calls to alert the rest of the group to the presence of a predator above versus one from below, such as a snake. National Geographic, "Florida scrub jay," 3 Mar. 2020 There were also two bald eagles at Jackson Point, two common ravens, and a palm warbler at Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, and a brown thrasher at Milestone Cranberry Bog. BostonGlobe.com, "Bird sightings," 16 Feb. 2020 Perhaps Elizabeth was like the raven, crying out until the darkness of discrimination was dispelled. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Native leader Elizabeth Peratrovich commemorated on $1 coin," 6 Oct. 2019 The First Nations culture of the Pacific Northwest has four crests -- whale, eagle, wolf and raven -- and Vickers put one on each side of the box. Robert Levine, Billboard, "The Making of the Two Wildest Grammy-Nominated Box Sets," 28 Jan. 2019 The largest evolutionary brain leap is evident in modern birds like parrots and corvids, the group that includes crows, ravens and other related birds. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "After the dinosaurs went extinct, some birds shrank in body size and kept big brains," 23 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective About the size of a raven, that ancient animal’s mix of bird and dinosaur features showed an example of evolutionary transition, providing support for Charles Darwin’s theories. Ryan Carney, National Geographic, "The first known dinosaur feather inspired decades of dispute. Here's why.," 30 Sep. 2020 The shell of one cracked on her head, and the yolk ran down her long, raven hair. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "This Louisville couple fought Jim Crow laws as teens and later fell in love," 12 Mar. 2020 His other main characters, Farley’s raven roommate Bruce and the Asphalt State Park bears, also relocated to San Francisco. Bill Van Niekerken, SFChronicle.com, "An ode to Phil Frank: When ‘Travels with Farley’ moved to SF full time," 26 Feb. 2020 The love of his life A football and track star for Purdue, Mostert glanced down from a second-floor balcony of the athletic facility on his way into a position meeting one day and spotted the raven-haired Devon working out in the weight room. cleveland, "For 49ers’ Raheem Mostert, the Browns’ cut hurt more than most of the 5 others, because Cleveland is home for him & his wife Devon," 2 Feb. 2020 Then there is the pileated woodpecker, big as an owl and raven black, except for its white wing bars and the scarlet and white head markings. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, "The percussive appeal of the woodpecker," 17 July 2019 Needless to say, Jimin's latest raven-haired reveal for the tour provided some serendipity for ARMYs (and a break for his scalp). Devon Abelman, Allure, "BTS's Jimin Just Dyed His Hair Black for the First Stop of the U.S. Stadium Tour," 6 May 2019 The shadow of a witch materializes on a wall, which parts to reveal a glamorous, raven-haired woman (Rachel Oliveros Catalano) in an iridescent green gown. Daryl H. Miller, latimes.com, "Review: A life told in tall tales; 'Big Fish' at the Chance Theater," 12 July 2018 Two other eagles joined in the dive-bombing of the sow while a raven dive-bombed the flying eagles. Anchorage Daily News, "Katmai National Park drama: Bear vs. Eagles," 16 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Not a single coal miner was in sight, just a big, black Chihuahuan raven sitting atop a light post. Eric Lipton, New York Times, "“We are back. The coal industry is back,”," 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, "Mural project meant to give downtown Janesville a fresh look," 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, "“Birdbrain” Turns from Insult to Praise," 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, "This Helmet Will Save Football. Actually, Probably Not.," 14 Dec. 2019 When large predators defend their food caches, ravens call in other flock members to engage in diversionary tactics for gaining access to the food. Onur Güntürkün, Scientific American, "“Birdbrain” Turns from Insult to Praise," 1 Jan. 2020 Watching from bare branches, ravens warbled and croaked. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "After the Last Cop Killed Himself, All the Criminals Have to Do Is Hide," 24 Oct. 2019 Not just use tools — ravens use tools, and chimps use tools. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Being called a ‘bird brain’ might not be the insult you think it is," 29 Aug. 2019 In tarnished silver light the royal ravens spoke la langue verte, the green tongue of living speech. L. S. Asekoff, Harper's magazine, "Sundowner," 19 Aug. 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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1637, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1530, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for raven

Noun

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

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for raven

Cite this Entry

“Raven.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raven. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for raven

raven

noun
How to pronounce raven (audio)

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

raven

adjective

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

literary : shiny and black

raven

noun
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

raven

adjective

Kids Definition of raven (Entry 2 of 2)

: shiny and black like a raven's feathers

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on raven

What made you want to look up raven? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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