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 For example, Chinese TikTok owner ByteDance is the most valuable unicorn on the planet, worth $140 billion — but Beijing's crackdown on big tech companies may make an IPO tough to manage. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, 1 Dec. 2021 Daughters Mabel Ray, 9, and Evelyn Penn, 7, showed off their costumes, a Harley Quinn jokester and an inflatable unicorn, respectively. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, 2 Nov. 2021 Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that to an extent the Virginia race was something of a unicorn. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 5 Nov. 2021 In awe of your bravery, your stillness, generosity, your unicorn like beauty, your confidence, your ability to give to so many people all at once. Dory Jackson, PEOPLE.com, 21 Oct. 2021 With a valuation of $1 billion, Ajaib has become the seventh unicorn to emerge from Indonesia. Ardian Wibisono, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 Finding a great pizza that's also vegan outside of the northeast U.S. is like stumbling across a unicorn. Rose Bruno Bailey, Chron, 2 Sep. 2021 For the special outing, which came a week before the actual holiday of Halloween, Haley dressed as a unicorn, Hope as a puppy and the three adult women went as the sun, moon and stars. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, 25 Oct. 2021 Or has your competitor done a SPAC with no revenue and is now valued as a unicorn? Howard Rosen, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About unicorn

Time Traveler for unicorn

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near unicorn



unicorn's horn

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for unicorn

Last Updated

5 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unicorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unicorn. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!