pen·​guin ˈpen-gwən How to pronounce penguin (audio)
: any of various erect short-legged flightless aquatic birds (family Spheniscidae) of the southern hemisphere

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Ernest Shackleton was an adventurer, polar explorer and a man who survived in the Antarctic by drifting on ice floes while eating penguins and dogs. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 15 May 2023 If reading material is provided in this cozy bathroom, who’s to say whether this is preferable to a bonafide reading nook? 11 Cottage Commode Is there any better lavatory companion than an impish rattan penguin? Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 11 May 2023 Starvation wasted away the hundreds of flightless little blue penguins that washed up on New Zealand beaches at half their typical weight. Marion Renault, The New Republic, 3 May 2023 The zoo’s winged inhabitants also have come under attack, Fawzy added, as the seagulls have raided the nests of the native species of birds and ducks that nest on the zoo grounds, and disrupted feeding time for penguins and pelicans. Victoria Bisset, Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2023 An African penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has a new name in honor of former Cincinnati Reds shortstop and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 28 Apr. 2023 The first image in her six-slide carousel on Instagram is a snap of her son, August Brooksbank, looking at penguins with his cousin, Sienna Mapelli Mozzi. Town & Country, 25 Apr. 2023 In the image, August, 2, can be seen watching penguins at a zoo exhibit while standing beside Sienna, 1 — whose parents are Princess Eugenie's sister, Princess Beatrice, and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 22 Apr. 2023 Outside, things get more interesting with a small penguin colony gifted to the aquarium from Chile the star attraction. David Nikel, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


obsolete English penguin great auk, perhaps from Welsh pen gwyn white head (applied to the bird in winter plumage)

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of penguin was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near penguin

Cite this Entry

“Penguin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pen·​guin ˈpen-gwən How to pronounce penguin (audio)
: any of various short-legged seabirds of the southern hemisphere that cannot fly and have wings functioning as flippers and used in swimming

More from Merriam-Webster on penguin

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