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[mur-lin] /ˈmɜr lɪn/
a small, bold falcon, Falco columbarius, of the Northern Hemisphere.
Also called pigeon hawk.
Origin of merlin
1350-1400; Middle English merlioun, merlone < Anglo-French merilun, Old French esmerillon, diminutive of esmeril < Germanic; akin to German Schmerl, Old Norse smyrill


[mur-lin] /ˈmɜr lɪn/
Arthurian Romance. a venerable magician and seer.
a male given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for merlin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The girls now began to laugh, because they knew that only children who told falsehoods were sent to merlin.

    Brooks's Readers, Third Year Stratton D. Brooks
  • “Any room will do,” said the girl hurriedly, as she followed Mrs. merlin.

    Penny of Top Hill Trail Belle Kanaris Maniates
  • And so Arthur rode a soft pace till it was day, and then was he ware of three churls chasing merlin, and would have slain him.

    Children's Literature Charles Madison Curry
  • Then Arthur and merlin waited no longer, but gave the hermit thanks and departed.

  • "My father was an incubus," merlin said, as though that explained everything.

    The Eye of Wilbur Mook H. B. Hickey
  • But no more than eight and twenty Knights could merlin find.

  • But Richard's resolution continued unshaken, and he forced merlin on.

    The Lancashire Witches William Harrison Ainsworth
British Dictionary definitions for merlin


a small falcon, Falco columbarius, that has a dark plumage with a black-barred tail: used in falconry See also pigeon hawk
Word Origin
C14: from Old French esmerillon, from esmeril, of Germanic origin


(in Arthurian legend) a wizard and counsellor to King Arthur eternally imprisoned in a tree by a woman to whom he revealed his secret craft
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
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Word Origin and History for merlin

small, strong European falcon, early 14c., from Anglo-French merilun, a shortened form of Old French esmerillon "merlin, small hawk" (12c., Modern French émerillon), from Frankish *smiril or some other Germanic source (cf. Old High German smerlo, German Schmerl "merlin"). Spanish esmerejon, Italian smeriglio also are Germanic loan-words.


sorcerer and soothsayer in Arthurian legends, from Old French form of Welsh Myrddhin, probably from Old Celtic *Mori-dunon, literally "of the sea-hill," from *mori "sea" (see mere (n.)) + dunom "hill" (see dune).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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merlin in Culture

Merlin definition

In the legends of King Arthur, a magician who acts as Arthur's principal adviser.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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