uni·​corn | \ ˈyü-nə-ˌkȯrn How to pronounce unicorn (audio) \
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

Andrew McMahon in the inflatable unicorn Decked out in maroon pants, gold sunglasses and a skinny tie, Andrew McMahon took over the Sunset Cliffs stage under the afternoon sun. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "KAABOO Music Festival Day One Highlights: Maren Morris Gets Personal, Boyz II Men Get Nostalgic and More," 14 Sep. 2019 The field’s other unicorns are unlikely to give up trying. The Economist, "Technology firms vie for billions in data-analytics contracts," 5 Sep. 2019 Recreate this big mood with a cute red suit, and don’t forget the unicorn. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Enjoy the Summer Sun Like a Celeb in These Swimwear Looks We Love," 1 Aug. 2019 Slack, the workplace communication tool popular in tech and media circles, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, making it the latest tech unicorn to race to Wall Street this year. Seth Fiegerman, CNN, "Slack is now worth more than $20 billion," 20 June 2019 But for fans, knowing there’s no threat of a lockout around the corner is the equivalent of seeing puppies and unicorns lining up at center ice beneath a row of rainbows. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Lost leverage by NHL players’ union means it will have to trust Gary Bettman," 17 Sep. 2019 Naturally, Charlotte and George wore their school's adorable navy blue uniforms, complete with red unicorn logos. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Chose a Lovely Pink Dress for Princess Charlotte's First Day of School," 5 Sep. 2019 Energy Vault Bring on the unicorns Energy storage companies rarely raise so much money. Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "SoftBank’s first bet in energy storage is a startup that stacks concrete blocks," 14 Aug. 2019 But right now, the company is losing money hand over fist (not an uncommon practice among unicorns but not exactly a ringing endorsement of WeWork’s penny-pinching). Rani Molla, Vox, "How WeWork is trying to justify its tech company valuation," 14 Aug. 2019

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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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 How to pronounce unicorn (audio) \

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 How to pronounce unicorn (audio) \

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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