From Middle English merlone, merlion, marlyon, merlyon, merlinge, from Old French emerillon, esmerillon, from Old Frankish *smiril (“falcon, hawk”), from Proto-Germanic *smirilaz (“falcon, merlin”). Cognate with Old High German smirl (“falcon”), Old Norse smyrill (“falcon”).
merlin (plural merlins)
- A small falcon, Falco columbarius, that breeds in northern North America, Europe, and Asia.
- Synonym: pigeon hawk
- [c. 1381–1382, Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules; republished as “The Assembly of Fowls”, in D[avid] Laing Purves, editor, The Canterbury Tales and Faerie Queene: With Other Poems of Chaucer and Spenser. […], Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, 1874, OCLC 16857511, page 220, column 2:
- The gentle falcon, that with its feet distraineth / The kingës hand; the hardy sperhawke eke, / The quailës foe; the merlion that paineth / Himself full oft the larkë for to seek; [...]]
- 1991, Thomas S. Henricks, “Sport in Feudal England”, in Disputed Pleasures: Sport and Society in Preindustrial England (Contributions to the Study of World History; 28), Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, Greenwood Publishing Group, →ISBN, ISSN 0885-9159, page 23:
- Smaller and less powerful falcons included the merlon, the hobby, and the kesterel.
- (biochemistry) A cytoskeletal protein active in the suppression of tumors.
merlin m (plural merlins)
- splitting maul: an axe with a long handle, the blade of which is coupled with a broad side that can be used as a sledgehammer.