Definition of pelican in English:


Syllabification: pel·i·can
Pronunciation: /ˈpeləkən


1A large gregarious waterbird with a long bill, an extensible throat pouch for scooping up fish, and mainly white or gray plumage.
More example sentences
  • Most of the postcranial elements belong to continental waterbirds, including pelicans, anhingas, herons, storks, ducks, and rails.
  • Millions of birds - ducks, geese, pelicans, shore birds - use the sea each year.
  • Black swans, pelicans, white faced heron and mullet jumping out of the water were some of the attractions that were snapped by the budding photographers.
1.1A heraldic or artistic representation of a pelican, typically depicted pecking its own breast as a symbol of Christ.
[from an ancient legend that the pelican fed its young on its own blood]
More example sentences
  • This act of self-vulning, in which the female pelican pecks blood from her chest to feed her young, symbolizes Christ feeding the faithful.
  • Art nouveau pelicans uphold the piers of Blackfriars Bridge, and high overhead stands the great iron badge of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.
  • The pelican is a symbol of self-sacrifice, and a Masonic symbol of resurrection!


late Old English pellicane, via late Latin from Greek pelekan, probably based on pelekus 'ax' (with reference to its bill).

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