deer

noun

plural deer also deers
1
: any of various slender-legged, even-toed, ruminant mammals (family Cervidae, the deer family) having usually brownish fur and deciduous antlers borne by the males of nearly all and by the females only of the caribou : cervid
2
archaic : animal
especially : a small mammal
deerlike adjective

Did you know?

The meaning of a word often develops from the general to the specific. For instance, deer is used in modern English to mean several related forms of an animal species, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The Old English deor, however, could refer to any animal, tame or wild, or to wild animals in general. In time, deer came to be used only for wild animals that were hunted, and then for the red deer, once widely hunted in England. From that usage the term has spread to related animals, becoming somewhat more general again.

Examples of deer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There’s a compromise in play as Catalina Island residents fight a plan to kill 1,500 invasive deer. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 6 Feb. 2024 That includes bird feeders, since birdseed attracts smaller game and deer to your yard — and invites more mountain lions. Brooke Baitinger, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 The place is typical small-town bar kitsch, with dollar bills stuck to the ceiling and mounted elk and deer heads. Sacramento Bee, 30 Jan. 2024 Sales of gun deer licenses have dropped 4% since 2018, from 577,576 licenses to 553,479 licenses this year. Todd Richmond, Twin Cities, 24 Jan. 2024 For example, guides will no longer be able to guide waterfowl hunters on popular areas such as the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area or deer hunters on wildlife areas. Brent Frazee, Kansas City Star, 24 Jan. 2024 With any help from Mother Nature, these efforts should help ensure healthy deer populations across the country, and perhaps even better success rates for America’s deer hunters in the seasons to come. Dac Collins, Outdoor Life, 11 Jan. 2024 Some bucks have been seen eating the bloody velvet, though this isn’t something every deer does. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2024 Residents in the Maymont section of Richmond — a collection of cottages on hilltops above the James River — estimated that the deer was about eight years old. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, deer, animal, from Old English dēor beast; akin to Old High German tior wild animal, Lithuanian dvasia breath, spirit

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deer was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near deer

Cite this Entry

“Deer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deer. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

deer

noun
plural deer
: any of a family of cloven-hoofed cud-chewing mammals (as an elk, a caribou, or a white-tailed deer) of which the males of almost all species have antlers while the females of only a few species do
Etymology

Old English dēor "wild animal, beast"

Word Origin
The meaning of a word often develops from the general to the specific. For instance, deer is used in modern English to mean several related forms, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The Old English dēor, however, could refer to any animal, tame or wild, or to wild animals in general. In time, deer came to be used only for wild animals that were hunted and then for the red deer, once widely hunted in England. From that usage the term has spread to related animals, becoming somewhat more general again.

More from Merriam-Webster on deer

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