from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Any of various often nocturnal birds of prey of the order Strigiformes, having hooked and feathered talons, large heads with short hooked beaks, large eyes set forward, and fluffy plumage that allows for almost noiseless flight.
- n. Any of a breed of domestic pigeons resembling owls.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any of various birds of prey of the order Strigiformes that are primarily nocturnal and have forward-looking, binocular vision, limited eye movement, and good hearing.
- n. A person seen as having owl-like characteristics, especially appearing wise or serious, or being nocturnally active.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Any species of raptorial birds of the family Strigidæ. They have large eyes and ears, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye. They are mostly nocturnal in their habits.
- n. A variety of the domestic pigeon.
- intransitive v. To pry about; to prowl.
- intransitive v. To carry wool or sheep out of England.
- intransitive v. Hence, to carry on any contraband trade.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A raptorial nocturnal bird of prey of the family Strigidæ
- n. A variety of the domestic pigeon: so called from its owl-like physiognomy.
- n. A person whose pleasure or business it is to be up or about much at night.
- To carry on a contraband or unlawful trade at night or in secrecy; skulk about with contraband goods; smuggle; especially, to carry wool or sheep out of the country, at one time an offense at law.
- n. A dialectal form of wool.
- n. Sometimes applied to the barn-owl, Strix protincola, which is white below and when in flight seems almost entirely white. See cut at barn-owl.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. nocturnal bird of prey with hawk-like beak and claws and large head with front-facing eyes
Middle English owle, from Old English ūle, of imitative origin.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English owle, from Old English ūle, from Proto-Germanic *uwwalōn (compare West Frisian ûle, Dutch uil, Danish ugle), diminutive of *uwwōn ‘eagle-owl’ (compare German Uhu), variant of *ūfaz, *ūfōn (compare Swedish uv ‘horned owl’, Bavarian Auf), from Proto-Indo-European *up- (compare Latvian ũpis ‘eagle-owl’, Czech úpěti ‘to wail, howl’, Avestan ufyeimi ‘to call out’). (Wiktionary)