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

But research suggests it’s not just unicorns and rainbows. Jancee Dunn, Allure, "Pretty Pills: How Beauty Supplements Changed the Way We View Wellness," 2 Oct. 2018 That’s despite a logo depicting HMS Victory, the Royal Navy flagship that helped defeat Napoleon’s fleet in 1805, under a lion, a unicorn and the British crown. Bloomberg.com, "How British Lawmakers Really Use WhatsApp," 15 Feb. 2018 Start your day with a group project: learning to make macarons with the pastry chef at Le Dolci, a rustic bake shop known for its dainty French cookies and stunning unicorn cakes. Fortune, "14 Perfect Date Night Ideas in Cities Around the World," 13 Feb. 2018 The enchanted forest of unicorns looks set to be among the victims of China’s worsening economy. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Time Is Running Out for Unprofitable Chinese Startups," 27 Dec. 2018 Especially now that she's sent home Wills and Leo, two of her Bachelor unicorns. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Bachelorette Season 14, Episode 7 Recap: Becca Picks A Supreme Court Nominee," 10 July 2018 That's the conclusion of the United Kingdom's National History Museum in London, which determined that the Elasmotherium sibiricum, a species known as the Siberian unicorn, co-existed with humans. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Unicorns Rhinos Were Real and Lived With Humans, New Study Says," 27 Nov. 2018 In a sea of fashion conglomerates, Thom Browne is a unicorn. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Thom Browne’s $500 Million Deal Is a Big Win for Independent Designers," 28 Aug. 2018 But the unicorns of Silicon Valley have proved attractive to sovereign-wealth funds and a handful of big private funds that search for growth. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Elon Musk’s Flawed Plan for Tesla Shareholders," 9 Aug. 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.

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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

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Statistics for unicorn

Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for unicorn

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on unicorn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unicorn

Spanish Central: Translation of unicorn

Nglish: Translation of unicorn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unicorn for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about unicorn

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