wood·​peck·​er ˈwu̇d-ˌpe-kər How to pronounce woodpecker (audio)
: any of numerous birds (family Picidae) with zygodactyl feet, stiff spiny tail feathers used in climbing or resting on tree trunks, a usually extensible tongue, a very hard bill used to drill the bark or wood of trees for insect food or to excavate nesting cavities, and generally showy parti-colored plumage

Illustration of woodpecker

Illustration of woodpecker

Examples of woodpecker in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In this case, that means keeping the ants alive long enough to be eaten by a woodpecker, a process that the parasite appears to facilitate. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 26 June 2023 Photographs of alligators popping just above the surface, endless moss hanging in the water, and deceased woodpeckers put on display only hint at the secrets of this harsh environment. Donny Bajohr, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Dec. 2023 In California, an exterminator found about 700 pounds of acorns collected by woodpeckers inside a wall. Louis Casiano, Fox News, 9 Sep. 2023 In December, about 700 pounds of acorns stored by woodpeckers were found in a wall of a California house. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 10 May 2023 With images from trail cameras trained on woodpecker nests, scientists are gradually learning more about the hidden lives of these spirited animals. Discover Magazine, 29 Nov. 2023 Puffs of snow blow through a wall of open glass doors; a sweep of white landscape is pierced only by spindly trees and the scarlet legs of a woodpecker. Danielle Demetriou, Condé Nast Traveler, 21 Nov. 2023 But we were distracted by a Nuttall’s woodpecker that was hard to miss. The New York Times Elaine Chen Emily Anthes, New York Times, 18 May 2023 The woodpecker population continued to drop until the 1990s. Robert Kunzig, Scientific American, 17 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'woodpecker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of woodpecker was circa 1530

Dictionary Entries Near woodpecker

Cite this Entry

“Woodpecker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woodpecker. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


wood·​peck·​er -ˌpek-ər How to pronounce woodpecker (audio)
: any of numerous brightly marked birds with strong claws and stiff tail feathers used in climbing or resting on tree trunks, a long flexible tongue, and a very hard bill used to drill into trees to get insects for food and to dig out holes for nesting

More from Merriam-Webster on woodpecker

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