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[fawl-kuh n, fal-, faw-kuh n] /ˈfɔl kən, ˈfæl-, ˈfɔ kən/
any of several birds of prey of the family Falconidae, especially of the genus Falco, usually distinguished by long, pointed wings, a hooked beak with a toothlike notch on each side of the upper bill, and swift, agile flight, typically diving to seize prey: some falcon species are close to extinction.
  1. the female gyrfalcon.
  2. falcon-gentle.
  3. any bird of prey trained for use in falconry.
    Compare tercel.
a small, light cannon in use from the 15th to the 17th century.
(initial capital letter) Military. a family of air-to-air guided missiles, some of them capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Origin of falcon
1200-50; Middle English fauco(u)n, falcon < Anglo-French, Old French faucon < Late Latin falcōn- (stem of falcō) hawk (said to be derivative of falx, stem falc- sickle, referring to the sicklelike talons)
Related forms
[fawl-kuh-nahyn, -nin, fal-, faw-kuh-] /ˈfɔl kəˌnaɪn, -nɪn, ˈfæl-, ˈfɔ kə-/ (Show IPA),
falconoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for falcon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The falcon, as well as the eagle, was a "fire-bringer or lightning-bird."

  • I gave it—ay, I gave it to a youth that came to mine aid, and reclaimed a falcon for me!

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I thought of her as of a dove, which a falcon had swept away.

    Hania Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • It is possible that in snaring the owl we have caught the falcon.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • She darted down from heaven into the air like some falcon sailing on his broad wings and screaming.

    The Iliad Homer
British Dictionary definitions for falcon


/ˈfɔːlkən; ˈfɔːkən/
any diurnal bird of prey of the family Falconidae, esp any of the genus Falco (gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, etc), typically having pointed wings and a long tail
  1. any of these or related birds, trained to hunt small game
  2. the female of such a bird Compare tercel related adjective falconine
a light-medium cannon used from the 15th to 17th centuries
Word Origin
C13: from Old French faucon, from Late Latin falcō hawk, probably of Germanic origin; perhaps related to Latin falx sickle
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 falcon

mid-13c., from Old French faucon (12c.), from Late Latin falconem (nominative falco) "falcon," probably from Latin falx (genitive falcis) "curved blade, pruning hook, sickle;" the bird said to be so called for the shape of its talons, legs, or beak, but also possibly from the shape of its spread wings.

The other theory is that falx is of Germanic origin and means "gray bird," which is supported by the antiquity of the word in Germanic but opposed by those who point out that falconry by all evidences was imported from the East, and the Germans got it from the Romans, not the other way around.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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