• synonyms


[jur-fawl-kuh n, -fal-, -faw-kuh n]
  1. a large falcon, Falco rusticolus, of arctic and subarctic regions, having white, gray, or blackish color phases: now greatly reduced in number.
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Also gerfalcon.

Origin of gyrfalcon

1300–50; Middle English gerfaucon, jerfacoun < Middle French, Old French, equivalent to ger- (perhaps < Old High German giri greedy) + faucon falcon; compare Old Norse geirfalki
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gyrfalcon

Historical Examples of gyrfalcon

  • The gyrfalcon can certainly not catch a phalarope in flight.

    Life Histories of North American Shore Birds, Part 1 (of 2)

    Arthur Cleveland Bent

  • The Gyrfalcon is the best-proportioned and most active member of the Falcon tribe.

    Reptiles and Birds

    Louis Figuier

  • The gyrfalcon is the speed-king among birds, but the hoary bat is faster still.

    Wild Folk

    Samuel Scoville

  • When only a streak of silver sky, with a shoal of little violet clouds, was left of the daylight the gyrfalcon gave up the chase.

    Wild Folk

    Samuel Scoville

  • A dead Arctic tern was on the beach only 90 feet away and visible to the gyrfalcon.

British Dictionary definitions for gyrfalcon



  1. a very large rare falcon, Falco rusticolus, of northern and arctic regions: often used for hunting
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Word Origin for gyrfalcon

C14: from Old French gerfaucon, perhaps from Old Norse geirfalki, from geirr spear + falki falcon
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 gyrfalcon


also gerfalcon, c.1200, from Old French girfauc "large northern falcon," probably from Frankish, from Proto-Germanic *ger (cf. Old High German gir "vulture") + Latin falco "hawk" (see falcon). Folk etymology connects it with Latin gyrus (see gyre) in reference to "circling" in the air.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper