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[rey-vuh n] /ˈreɪ vən/
any of several large, corvine birds having lustrous, black plumage and a loud, harsh call, especially Corvus corax, of the New and Old Worlds.
the divine culture hero and trickster of the North Pacific Coast Indians.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Corvus.
lustrous black:
raven locks of hair.
Origin of raven1
before 900; Middle English; Old English hrǣfn; cognate with German Rabe, Old Norse hrafn
Related forms
ravenlike, adjective


[rav-uh n] /ˈræv ən/
verb (used without object)
to seek plunder or prey.
to eat or feed voraciously or greedily:
to raven like an animal.
to have a ravenous appetite.
verb (used with object)
to seize as spoil or prey.
to devour voraciously.
rapine; robbery.
plunder or prey.
Also, ravin.
1485-95; earlier ravine < Middle French raviner, ultimately < Latin rapīna rapine

Raven, The

a lyric poem (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for raven
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This pale lady with the raven ringlets carried on an intrigue with a handsome page.

  • The raven, wolf, and eagle are the regular epic accompaniments of battle and carnage.

    Beowulf Unknown
  • "Oh, I shall succeed this time," thought raven, and his heart beat fast with hope.

    A Treasury of Eskimo Tales Clara Kern Bayliss
  • So the fisherman washed one of the fish, and threw it to the raven.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • raven is just ahead in the woods there alone and the Indian is further back with a bunch of ponies down in the river bottom.

    Corporal Cameron Ralph Connor
British Dictionary definitions for raven


a large passerine bird, Corvus corax, having a large straight bill, long wedge-shaped tail, and black plumage: family Corvidae (crows). It has a hoarse croaking cry
  1. a shiny black colour
  2. (as adjective): raven hair
Word Origin
Old English hrǣfn; related to Old High German hraban, Old Norse hrafn


to seize or seek (plunder, prey, etc)
to eat (something) voraciously or greedily; be ravenous in eating
Derived Forms
ravener, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French raviner to attack impetuously; see ravenous


a traditional trickster hero among the native peoples of the Canadian Pacific Northwest
Word Origin
from raven1
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 raven

Old English hræfn (Mercian), hrefn; hræfn (Northumbrian, West Saxon), from Proto-Germanic *khrabanas (cf. Old Norse hrafn, Danish ravn, Dutch raaf, Old High German hraban, German Rabe "raven," Old English hroc "rook"), from PIE root *ker-, imitative of harsh sounds (cf. Latin crepare "to creak, clatter," cornix "crow," corvus "raven;" Greek korax "raven," korone "crow;" Old Church Slavonic kruku "raven;" Lithuanian krauklys "crow").

Raven mythology shows considerable homogeneity throughout the whole area [northern regions of the northern hemisphere] in spite of differences in detail. The Raven peeps forth from the mists of time and the thickets of mythology, as a bird of slaughter, a storm bird, a sun and fire bird, a messenger, an oracular figure and a craftsman or culture hero. [Edward A. Armstrong, "The Folklore of Birds," 1958]
Old English also used hræmn, hremm. The raven standard was the flag of the Danish Vikings. The Quran connects the raven with Cain's murder of Abel; but in Christianity the bird plays a positive role in the stories of St. Benedict, St. Paul the Hermit, St. Vincent, etc. It was anciently believed to live to great old age, but the ancients also believed it wanting in parental care. The vikings, like Noah, were said to have used the raven to discover land. "When uncertain of their course they let one loose, and steered the vessel in his track, deeming that the land lay in the direction of his flight; if he returned to the ship, it was supposed to be at a distance" [Charles Swainson, "The Folk Lore and Provincial Names of British Birds," London, 1886].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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raven in the Bible

Heb. 'orebh, from a root meaning "to be black" (comp. Cant. 5:11); first mentioned as "sent forth" by Noah from the ark (Gen. 8:7). "Every raven after his kind" was forbidden as food (Lev. 11:15; Deut. 14:14). Ravens feed mostly on carrion, and hence their food is procured with difficulty (Job 38:41; Ps. 147:9). When they attack kids or lambs or weak animals, it is said that they first pick out the eyes of their victims (Prov. 30:17). When Elijah was concealed by the brook Cherith, God commanded the ravens to bring him "bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening" (1 Kings 17:3-6). (See ELIJAH.) There are eight species of ravens in Palestine, and they are everywhere very numerous in that land.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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