follow Dictionary.com

Submit your word to be a Word of the Day!

pelican

[pel-i-kuh n] /ˈpɛl ɪ kən/
noun
1.
any of several large, totipalmate, fish-eating birds of the family Pelecanidae, having a large bill with a distensible pouch.
2.
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
1000
before 1000; Middle English pellican, Old English < Late Latin pelicānus, variant of pelecān < Greek pelekā́n
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for pelicans

pelican

/ˈpɛlɪkən/
noun
1.
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 pelicans

pelican

n.

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
pelicans in the Bible

are frequently met with at the waters of Merom and the Sea of Galilee. The pelican is ranked among unclean birds (Lev. 11:18; Deut. 14:17). It is of an enormous size, being about 6 feet long, with wings stretching out over 12 feet. The Hebrew name (kaath, i.e., "vomiter") of this bird is incorrectly rendered "cormorant" in the Authorized Version of Isa. 34:11 and Zeph. 2:14, but correctly in the Revised Version. It receives its Hebrew name from its habit of storing in its pouch large quantities of fish, which it disgorges when it feeds its young. Two species are found on the Syrian coast, the Pelicanus onocrotalus, or white pelican, and the Pelicanus crispus, or Dalmatian pelican.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for pelican

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for pelicans

12
16
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for pelicans