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  1. any of several large, short-tailed, web-footed, fish-eating diving birds of the genus Gavia, of the Northern Hemisphere.

Origin of loon1

First recorded in 1625–35; perhaps alteration of loom3


  1. a crazy or simple-minded person.

Origin of loon2

1400–50; late Middle English lowen, perhaps < Old Norse lūinn worn, tired; later influenced by loon1 and loony1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for loon

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • As if one loon—I mean as if one Chapter member in the family wasn't enough.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Then he threw off his main-hatch and "haw-hawed" like a loon.

    Cape Cod Stories

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Gin I could have come up in time, the loon had never risen from the ground.'

    Two Penniless Princesses

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Knowing what she knew of her brother, Loon Dyke could never again be her home.

  • But a loon flapped up from the rushes, brushing the priest's face with its wings.

British Dictionary definitions for loon


  1. the US and Canadian name for diver (def. 3)

Word Origin

C17: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse lōmr


  1. informal a simple-minded or stupid person
  2. Northeast Scot dialect a lad
  3. archaic a person of low rank or occupation (esp in the phrase lord and loon)

Word Origin

C15: origin obscure
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for loon


large diving bird (especially the Great Northern Diver), 1630s, from a Scandinavian source (cf. Norwegian lom, from Old Norse lomr).


"crazy person," mid-15c., lowen "rascal," of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Dutch loen "stupid person."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper