Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[pel-i-kuh n] /ˈpɛl ɪ kən/
any of several large, totipalmate, fish-eating birds of the family Pelecanidae, having a large bill with a distensible pouch.
a still or retort with two tubes that leave the body from the neck, curve in opposite directions, and reenter the body through the belly.
Origin of pelican
before 1000; Middle English pellican, Old English < Late Latin pelicānus, variant of pelecān < Greek pelekā́n Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for pelican
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pelican by this time had got rid of her load of fish and settled herself for conversation.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • The Egret settled to her nest again and the pelican went on with the story.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • "It was only to her own people she could do that," said the pelican.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • The real cause of the excitement we soon learned was the arrival of the pelican.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • Fig. 148 is an illustration of the well-known emblem, the pelican in her piety.

British Dictionary definitions for pelican


any aquatic bird of the tropical and warm water family Pelecanidae, such as P. onocrotalus (white pelican): order Pelecaniformes. They have a long straight flattened bill, with a distensible pouch for engulfing fish
Word Origin
Old English pellican, from Late Latin pelicānus, from Greek pelekān; perhaps related to Greek pelekus axe, perhaps from the shape of the bird's bill; compare Greek pelekas woodpecker
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for pelican

Old English pellicane, from Late Latin pelecanus, from Greek pelekan "pelican" (so used by Aristotle), apparently related to pelekas "woodpecker" and pelekys "ax," perhaps so called from the shape of the bird's bill. Spelling influenced in Middle English by Old French pelican. Used in Septuagint to translate Hebrew qaath. The fancy that it feeds its young on its own blood is an Egyptian tradition properly belonging to some other bird. Louisiana has been known as the Pelican state at least since 1859.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for pelican

Word Value for pelican

Scrabble Words With Friends