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[oul] /aʊl/
any of numerous, chiefly nocturnal birds of prey, of the order Strigiformes, having a broad head with large, forward-directed eyes that are usually surrounded by disks of modified feathers: many populations are diminishing owing to loss of habitat.
one of a breed of domestic pigeons having an owllike appearance.
a person of owllike solemnity or appearance.
operating late at night or all night:
an owl train.
Origin of owl
before 900; Middle English oule, Old English ūle; cognate with Low German ūle, Dutch uil; akin to German Eule, Old Norse ugla
Related forms
owllike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for owl
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And he winked and blinked at stout Friar Tuck like an owl at the sun.

  • This, with coffee, followed a good supper of boiled partridge and owl.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • It is possible that in snaring the owl we have caught the falcon.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • You ought to be dozing half the day—and instead you're as wide awake as an owl.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • An owl had put by for next day the remains of something dainty which he had to eat.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
British Dictionary definitions for owl


any nocturnal bird of prey of the order Strigiformes, having large front-facing eyes, a small hooked bill, soft feathers, and a short neck
any of various breeds of owl-like fancy domestic pigeon (esp the African owl, Chinese owl, and English owl)
a person who looks or behaves like an owl, esp in having a solemn manner
Derived Forms
owl-like, adjective
Word Origin
Old English ūle; related to Dutch uil, Old High German ūwila, Old Norse ugla
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 owl

Old English ule "owl," from Proto-Germanic *uwwalon- (cf. Middle Dutch, Dutch uil, Old High German uwila, German Eule, Old Norse ugla), a diminutive of PIE root *u(wa)l-, which is imitative of a wail or an owl's hoot (cf. Latin ulula "owl;" cf. also ululation). The bird was employed proverbially and figuratively in reference to nocturnal habits, ugliness, and appearance of gravity and wisdom (often ironic).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with owl


see: night owl
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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