Definition of owl in English:

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Pronunciation: /oul/


A nocturnal bird of prey with large forward-facing eyes surrounded by facial disks, a hooked beak, and typically a loud call.
Example sentences
  • Flammulated Owls are small owls with short ear-tufts that can be held erect or flush to the head.
  • Common predators of house sparrows include cats and other mammalian predators, birds of prey, and owls.
  • The great majority of past studies in this area have been on birds of prey and owls.



Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • Athyra is a large brown owllike bird that can emit psychic signals to lure prey or frighten predators.
  • Birds of prey, characterized by long legs, long, broad wings, and an owllike ruff of feathers surrounding the face.


Old English ūle, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch uil and German Eule, from a base imitative of the bird's call.

  • The name of the owl probably comes from an imitation of its call. The bird was traditionally taken as a symbol of wisdom—in classical times it was associated with the Greek goddess Athene—and to call someone owlish (late 16th century) suggests that they look solemn or wise. It is a nocturnal bird, and its name is also used for someone, a ‘night owl’, who habitually goes to bed late and feels more lively in the evening. The opposite is a lark. In the 17th century owling was the term for smuggling wool or sheep out of England, to avoid paying tax. Although possibly a different word, it may also come from the bird's nocturnal habits, since such smuggling would have been done at night.

Words that rhyme with owl

afoul, befoul, cowl, foul, fowl, growl, howl, jowl, prowl, Rabaul, scowl, yowl

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: owl

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