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 The justice was riding on a unicorn, the reins in her hands. Washington Post, "'I had to come’: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s admirers line up to see her one more time," 23 Sep. 2020 Klarna is now Europe’s largest fintech unicorn after raising $650 million in a funding round led by Silver Lake. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Opendoor will go public via SPAC," 15 Sep. 2020 UT-Dallas is a unicorn in the sense that all of its varsity players have scholarships as an official cog in the school’s athletic program, Adler said. Sean Collins, Dallas News, "North Texas schools show why esports could be the most consistent collegiate competition in 2020," 18 Sep. 2020 The satire was aimed at Brown and his team, and its message was clear: Their results were as imaginary as the unicorn itself. Jo Marchant, Wired, "The Oysters That Knew What Time It Was," 1 Sep. 2020 Ant, currently the world's most valuable unicorn, aims to raise around $30 billion in simultaneous dual listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Shanghai's Star market, and may float its shares as soon as October, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "A Jack Ma company is poised to break the record for biggest IPO—again," 21 Aug. 2020 Within moments, she was carried out to sea, adrift and alone, clinging to the unicorn’s neck. Iliana Magra, New York Times, "3-Year-Old Clinging to Unicorn Float Is Rescued From Sea in Greece," 28 Aug. 2020 One thing is clear: The $500 ventilator is something of a unicorn. Erin Schulte, Wired, "This Team Made a $500 Ventilator—but It May Never Be Used," 21 Aug. 2020 Peter Thiel’s original unicorn startup, or great eagle to VC fans of Middle Earth, is Palantir. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Why Uber needed to buy Postmates," 7 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for unicorn

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for unicorn

Last Updated

5 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unicorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unicorn. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for unicorn


How to pronounce unicorn (audio)

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

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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