Share this entry

Share this page

pelican

Syllabification: pel·i·can
Pronunciation: /ˈpeləkən
 
/

Definition of pelican in English:

noun

1A large gregarious waterbird with a long bill, an extensible throat pouch for scooping up fish, and mainly white or gray plumage.
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]
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!

Origin

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

Definition of pelican in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day boscage
Pronunciation: ˈbäskij
noun
massed trees or shrubs