Definition of pelican in English:

pelican

noun

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

    • ‘It's known, however, that species ranging from pelican to ducks and waders are caught for consumption.’
    • ‘Flamingos are conceded by all to be closely linked to pelicans, albatrosses, loons, probably penguins, and the like - the charadriomorph lineage.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In this lagoon, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, great and snowy egrets, and numerous terns and gulls forage for fish and other items of food all day long.’
    • ‘Millions of birds - ducks, geese, pelicans, shore birds - use the sea each year.’
    • ‘Seabirds like pelicans, penguins, and cormorants are highly vulnerable to oil, which can cover their feathers with a gluelike substance that can immobilize the animals.’
    • ‘You can visit all but three of the islands and paddle your heart out through preserved salt marsh on the eastern shores, where you might see ospreys, pelicans, egrets, or a bald eagle.’
    • ‘Most of the postcranial elements belong to continental waterbirds, including pelicans, anhingas, herons, storks, ducks, and rails.’
    • ‘There are herons, ducks, geese, ospreys, eagles, vultures, pelicans, gulls, plovers, avocets, storks, francolins, guinea fowls and many more.’
    • ‘There are also flies whose larvae develop only in the tracheal passages of red kangaroos and lice that live in the throat pouches of cormorants and pelicans.’
    • ‘Once again it's possible to see 20,000 American white pelicans or 500,000 ducks in a single day.’
    • ‘The white pelican of North America is a large, web-footed bird with an enormous throat pouch for scooping up fish.’
    • ‘Over 350 species of birds have been recorded in Worcester Country, including pelicans and pewees, kingbirds and cuckoos, herons, harriers, and eagles.’
    • ‘On your walk you will probably see mallards, grebes, canvasbacks and coons and perhaps snapping turtles and white pelicans.’
    • ‘In Florida, populations of pelicans, egrets, spoonbills, and other water birds were suffering from pressure by commercial market hunters.’
    • ‘While relaxing at a harbor-side lunch table, you can watch pelicans and fishing boats.’
    • ‘When the grey pelican scooped up the group of goslings, two of them were caught by the huge bird.’
    • ‘The white pelican, however, is a threatened species.’
    • ‘The water birds hovering around the lake include pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese and hammerkops.’
    • ‘Among the nearly 200 species found here are thicket tinamou, brown pelican, osprey, king vulture, and laughing gull.’
    1. 1.1 A heraldic or artistic representation of a pelican, typically depicted pecking its own breast as a symbol of Christ.
      • ‘The pelican is a symbol of self-sacrifice, and a Masonic symbol of resurrection!’
      • ‘Two celery glasses made for them have the same pelican imagery engraved above a wide band of diamonds and diagonal blaze cuts.’
      • ‘Art nouveau pelicans uphold the piers of Blackfriars Bridge, and high overhead stands the great iron badge of the London, Chatham & Dover Railway.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, since ancient times, it has been the male pelican that has been said to wound himself in this way, and the pelican has thus always been a symbol of paternal sacrifice.’
      • ‘This act of self-vulning, in which the female pelican pecks blood from her chest to feed her young, symbolizes Christ feeding the faithful.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

pelican

/ˈpeləkən//ˈpɛləkən/