uni·​corn | \ˈyü-nə-ˌkȯrn \
plural unicorns

Definition of unicorn 

1a : a mythical, usually white animal generally depicted with the body and head of a horse with long flowing mane and tail and a single often spiraled horn in the middle of the forehead

b : an animal mentioned in the Bible that is usually considered an aurochs, a one-horned rhinoceros, or an antelope

2 : something unusual, rare, or unique There's the elusive unicorn: headphones that do everything well and work in any situation.— Damon Darlin In Washington, D.C., truth is now a veritable unicorn.— Marilyn M. Singleton … he's like baseball's version of a unicorn—a true two-way player.— Tony Paul

3 business : a start-up that is valued at one billion dollars or more … a tech unicorn in Michigan is even more of a rarity, far from Silicon Valley's investor echo chamber.— Scott Martin The blockbuster initial public offering is expected to kick off a revitalized market this year, encouraging IPO debuts by other unicorns, the privately held start-ups whose hefty venture capital funds have allowed them to avoid Wall Street and the legal requirements of a public offering.— Jon Swartz

Illustration of unicorn

Illustration of unicorn

Examples of unicorn in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There's the 12-foot unicorn, the giant swan and convertible, and even bacon. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "You Can Now Celebrate America's Birthday While Riding A Giant Bald Eagle Float," 2 July 2018 SoftBank manages and also has a big chunk of money invested in the $98 billion Vision Fund, which owns stakes in such unicorns as Uber and WeWork. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "SoftBank Burns Bright for a Tiger," 12 July 2018 But in some cases, utilities drag their feet in the hopes a unicorn will come along. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Waiting for cheaper renewables can cost more in the long run," 22 May 2018 Because, Wills, a true Bachelorette unicorn, needs to be ABC's next Bachelor. refinery29.com, "Can We Start The Wills Reid For Bachelor Campaign Right Now?," 10 July 2018 His mug shows a unicorn farting into an intake funnel for a car. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Farting Unicorn Artist Says Elon Musk Stinks," 28 June 2018 Pizza with great cocktails after midnight: a unicorn in San Francisco. Jonathan Kauffman, SFChronicle.com, "The Mission’s best vegetarian-friendly restaurants," 17 June 2018 The other reason is that the chance of a Kansas City NBA team not just existing but being coached by an actual unicorn is roughly the same as the Royals making the playoffs in the next three years. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Danny Duffy good again, Royals and 100 losses, and, oh yes, the Chiefs," 12 June 2018 Is this a successful model for other unicorns on the 2018 CNBC Disruptor 50 list announced Tuesday, like Uber and Airbnb or smaller companies? Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Banks give richly to three Senate Democrats who backed deregulation," 23 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unicorn.' 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 unicorn

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for unicorn

Middle English unicorne, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin unicornis, from Latin, having one horn, from uni- + cornu horn — more at horn

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unicorn

Statistics for unicorn

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unicorn

The first known use of unicorn was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unicorn



English Language Learners Definition of unicorn

: an imaginary animal that looks like a horse and has a straight horn growing from the middle of its forehead


uni·​corn | \ˈyü-nə-ˌkȯrn \

Kids Definition of unicorn

: an imaginary animal that looks like a horse with one horn in the middle of the forehead


uni·​corn | \ˈyü-nə-ˌkȯ(ə)rn \

Medical Definition of unicorn 

: having a single horn or hornlike process a unicorn uterus

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on unicorn

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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