• synonyms


[tur-suh l]
noun Falconry.
  1. the male of a hawk, especially of a gyrfalcon or peregrine.
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Also terce·let [turs-lit] /ˈtɜrs lɪt/, tiercel.

Origin of tercel

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French terçuel < Vulgar Latin *tertiolus, equivalent to Latin terti(us) third + -olus -ole1; probably so called because the male is about one third smaller than the female
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tercel

Historical Examples of tercel

  • These he fastened firmly together, and set them securely within that window, by which the tercel would come to his lady.

    French Mediaeval Romances from the Lays of Marie de France

    Marie de France

  • Whilst the lady yet wondered upon him, the tercel became a young and comely knight before her eyes.

  • Shakespeare tells us to choose "a falcon or tercel for flying at the brook, and a hawk for the bush."

    A Cotswold Village

    J. Arthur Gibbs

  • By the falcon is always understood the female, as distinguished from the tercel, or male, of the peregrine or goshawk.

    The Ornithology of Shakespeare

    James Edmund Harting

  • The latter was probably called the tercel, or tiercel, from being about a third smaller than the falcon.

    The Ornithology of Shakespeare

    James Edmund Harting

British Dictionary definitions for tercel



  1. a male falcon or hawk, esp as used in falconry
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Word Origin for tercel

C14: from Old French, from Vulgar Latin tertiolus (unattested), from Latin tertius third, referring to the tradition that only one egg in three hatched a male chick
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 tercel


"male falcon," late 14c., from Old French tercel (c.1200), from Medieval Latin tertiolus, from Latin tertius "third, a third," from root of tres "three" (see three). Various theories as to why it is called this; one says it's because the males are a third smaller than the females, another because a third egg in the nest (smaller than the other two) is believed always to produce a male bird.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper