Definition of falcon in English:


Pronunciation /ˈfɔː(l)k(ə)n//ˈfɒlk(ə)n/


  • 1A bird of prey with long pointed wings and a notched beak, typically catching prey by diving on it from above.

    Family Falconidae, in particular the genus Falco: many species, including the peregrine, hobby, merlin, and kestrel

    Compare with hawk (sense 1 of the noun)
    • ‘The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds estimates that around 100 birds of prey, including eagles, falcons and hen harriers, are either poisoned, shot, trapped or have their nests destroyed every year on the Scottish moors.’
    • ‘Accipiters have rounded wings, whereas falcons have pointed ones.’
    • ‘The new facility boasts more than 50 birds of prey, ranging from large eagles and incredibly fast falcons to hawks and owls.’
    • ‘Tens of thousands of hawks, kites, falcons, eagles, osprey, vultures, and harriers appear in the skies over the Golden Gate from August through December.’
    • ‘It features free-flying displays and an opportunity for people to see at close hand some 30 different birds of prey, including eagles, buzzards and falcons.’
    • ‘Unlike most hawks, falcons do not build nests (though caracaras do).’
    • ‘Hawks, harriers, falcons, eagles, and vultures are diurnal migrants.’
    • ‘The enemies are not only humans but many other predators that consider rodent meat very tasty, snakes, large lizards, small and large mammals and birds of prey especially owls, kestrels, and falcons.’
    • ‘And of course, today we have such adept flyers as the swallows, hummingbirds, falcons, and the soaring albatrosses which demonstrate the great diversity of flight adaptations in birds.’
    • ‘These rugged plants make ideal cover for mice, rabbits, and other creatures that are, in turn, prey for the region's raptors - owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles.’
    • ‘American kestrels, smallest of North America's falcons, migrate at about the same time as the jays and flickers.’
    • ‘They're subject to a lot of pressures from predators, aerial predators such as falcons, sea eagles, and they need to have a clear line of sight to an area of escape for them, and also so they can see predators in advance.’
    • ‘These conditions resulted in many migrants (including red footed falcons, red throated pipits and grey-headed wagtails) all travelling far to the west of normal routes from Africa to northern breeding grounds.’
    • ‘The Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon in the world.’
    • ‘Adult pipits and wagtails have a number of avian predators among the falcons and hawks and owls (Strigiformes).’
    • ‘Pete takes us inside the lives and minds of all thirty-four species of diurnal raptors found in North America - hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures, the osprey and the harrier.’
    1. 1.1Falconry A female falcon, especially a peregrine.
      Compare with tercel
      • ‘The falcon, although unhooded, perches, docile and still on the edge of a table.’


Middle English faucon (originally denoting any diurnal bird of prey used in falconry): from Old French, from late Latin falco, from Latin falx, falc- ‘sickle’, or of Germanic origin and related to Dutch valk and German Falke. The -l- was added in the 15th century to conform with the Latin spelling.