Definition of puffin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpʌfɪn/


Image of puffin
An auk (seabird) of northern and Arctic waters which nests in holes, with a large head and a massive brightly coloured triangular bill.
  • Genera Fratercula and Lunda, family Alcidae: three species, in particular the (Atlantic) puffin (F. arctica).
Example sentences
  • One would imagine this place to be a paradise of alcids of all types, guillemots, dovekies, puffins, razorbills, murres, and murrelets all splashing around in their black and white finery.
  • Do not let it run free on coastal islands because terns, eider ducks, puffins, and storm petrels are ground nesters.
  • Along thousands of miles of coastline, you will see colonies of seabirds clustered in cliffs - gannets, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.


Middle English (denoting the Manx shearwater): apparently from puff + -ing3, with reference to the Manx shearwater's fat nestlings. The later use is a confusion, by association of nesting habits and habitat.

  • pelican from Old English:

    The pelican has always been noted for its long bill and deep throat-pouch for scooping up fish. This distinctive feature probably gave the bird its name, which came from Greek pelekan, probably based on pelekus ‘axe’. In Britain a pelican crossing is a road crossing with traffic lights operated by pedestrians. The name, first used in 1966, was taken from the initial letters of the formal title, pedestrian light controlled crossing. Two other pedestrian crossings were given bird names by analogy with the pelican, the puffin (from pedestrian user-friendly intelligent), and toucan crossing. As bird names, puffin has a rather complicated history. It was used in Middle English for the Manx shearwater, probably from ‘puff, puffed up’, describing the shearwater's fat nestlings. As the two birds often nest together the name was then transferred to the bird we now call a puffin. Toucans, who first appeared in English in the mid 16th century, get their name from the language of the Amazonian Indians called the Tupi, and their name imitates their cry.

Words that rhyme with puffin


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: puf¦fin

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