Definition of talon in US English:



  • 1A claw, especially one belonging to a bird of prey.

    • ‘They drop down on prey and capture it in their talons.’
    • ‘Their feet were clawed with talons, very sharp and powerful.’
    • ‘They often carry their prey in their bill, unlike other birds of prey that carry their prey in their talons.’
    • ‘The guards inspected the ship as it hovered over the floor and extended three landing claws, which gripped the concrete floor and scratched at them like a massive bird's talons.’
    • ‘The pair may grasp beaks, interlocking talons while spiraling toward the ground.’
    • ‘The pound and scrape of feet, claws, and metal talons was deafening.’
    • ‘Unlike birds of prey, the talons of Old World vultures are relatively weak and unsuitable as weapons of attack.’
    • ‘They dive from above to grab their prey out of the air with their strong talons.’
    • ‘Another loophole would permit hounds to drive hares into the talons of birds of prey.’
    • ‘They catch their prey in their talons and can even snatch flying insects from mid-air.’
    • ‘Its body was in the shape of a bear, but its claws were like the talons of a hawk, or eagle.’
    • ‘Fingernails, horns, claws, talons and hooves are special growths of the outer skin or epidermis.’
    • ‘The scientist watches as eagles dive into the river, emerging laboriously moments later with silver salmon firmly in their talons.’
    • ‘It was a hawk or eagle or some other bird of prey, with wings spread and talons outstretched.’
    • ‘The thumb and toe claws have an extra talon, which is unique in bats.’
    • ‘She turned around to face a gigantic brown bird with talons three times the size of her hand and a wingspan of at least ten feet.’
    • ‘There was a loud screech on the door as its large talons clawed at the steel.’
    • ‘She dropped her staff as she felt its talons clawing at her cheek.’
    • ‘They patrol low over the ground, or hover high over a field, watching for movement, then swooping down, talons first, to grab prey.’
    • ‘They look like the brightly colored talons of some exotic bird.’
  • 2The part of a bolt against which the key presses to slide it in a lock.

    • ‘Another introduction of his was the use of the revolving barrel which carries on it the bolt talon, so that the force to move the bolt in and out comes from the whole web of the key bit and not by a separate lower bolt step.’
    • ‘In such locks, lever steps on a key bit engage the lever tumblers and a bolt step on the key bit engages a bolt talon for moving the bolt.’
  • 3(in various card games) the cards that have not yet been dealt.

    • ‘The remaining stock of undealt cards is put face down on the table to form the talon.’
    • ‘At any stage in the deal 2 excess cards are dealt face down to the table as a talon.’
    • ‘If a spade is turned it is put back in the middle of the talon and the next card is turned up for trumps.’
    • ‘A basic turn consists of drawing the top card of the talon and placing it face up on the top of your stack.’
    • ‘The remaining talon is placed face down on the table in the center and the top card is turned over.’


Late Middle English (denoting any heel-like part or object): from Old French, literally ‘heel’, from Latin talus ‘ankle bone, heel’.