uni·​corn ˈyü-nə-ˌkȯrn How to pronounce unicorn (audio)
plural unicorns
: 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
: an animal mentioned in the Bible that is usually considered an aurochs, a one-horned rhinoceros, or an antelope
: 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
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 And there are plenty more tech unicorns in the pipeline that have weaker financials than Klaviyo that would therefore not garner a lot of demand, predicts Kennedy. Anne Sraders, Fortune, 22 Sep. 2023 Linda writes: My husband, Pete, texted me a GIF of a cat riding a unicorn this morning. John Hodgman, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2023 This breadth of support is a unicorn for the independent documentary space. Addie Morfoot, Variety, 16 Sep. 2023 In 'Glossy: Ambition, Beauty, and the Inside Story of Emily Weiss’s Glossier,' excerpted here exclusively, Marisa Meltzer tracks how an intern on 'The Hills' created a juggernaut makeup brand Once upon a time, Glossier was a unicorn. Jason Sheeler, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2023 Read full article But the new injury to his ulnar collateral ligament is a merciless reminder that the 29-year-old Ohtani is, in fact, real — a baseball unicorn, but also an athlete challenging the limit of human potential and physiology. Greg Beacham, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Aug. 2023 Its very success has led it to transform itself from a novel effort to achieve a scientific goal to something that resembles a standard Silicon Valley unicorn on its way to elbowing into the pantheon of Big Tech companies that affect our everyday lives. Steven Levy, WIRED, 5 Sep. 2023 The rest of the exhibit did not surface a sequel to last year’s offer of an 8K unicorn, a TV series available in that format (season 3 of Sky’s drama Das Boot, available through the Samsung TV Plus app in the EU). Rob Pegoraro, PCMAG, 3 Sep. 2023 But in this strange year, during the historic dual strikes by Hollywood actors and entertainment writers, Louis-Dreyfus felt like a unicorn. Jada Yuan, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English unicorne, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin unicornis, from Latin, having one horn, from uni- + cornu horn — more at horn

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near unicorn

Cite this Entry

“Unicorn.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unicorn. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an imaginary animal generally represented with the body and head of a horse and a single horn in the middle of the forehead

Middle English unicorne "unicorn," from early French unicorne (same meaning), derived from Latin unicornis "having one horn," from uni- "one" and cornu "horn" — related to corn entry 3, universe

Medical Definition


: having a single horn or hornlike process
a unicorn uterus

More from Merriam-Webster on unicorn

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