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Unicorn with a maiden, fresco in Palazzo Farnese, Rome, probably by Domenichino, ca 1602 (1)

From Middle English unicorne, unikorn, from Anglo-Norman unicorne, Old French unicorne, and their source, Latin ūnicornis, from unus (one) + cornu (horn). Other senses from either rarity (e.g., possessing multiple skills) or by physical resemblance to having a horn (e.g., howitzer).



unicorn (plural unicorns)

  1. A mythical beast resembling a horse or deer with a single, straight, spiraled horn projecting from its forehead.
  2. A heraldic representation of such a beast used as a charge or as a supporter; as in the arms of Great Britain and of Scotland.
  3. (historical) In various Bible translations, used to render the Latin unicornis or rhinoceros (representing Hebrew רְאֵם‎); a reem or wild ox.
  4. Any large beetle having a horn-like prominence on the head or prothorax, especially the Hercules beetle, Dynastes tityus.
  5. The larva of a unicorn moth.
  6. The kamichi, or unicorn bird.
  7. (military) A howitzer.
  8. (sexual slang) A single, usually bisexual woman who participates in swinging and/or polyamory.
  9. (finance) A startup company whose valuation has exceeded one billion U.S. dollars, which is solely backed by venture capitalists, and which has yet to have an IPO.
  10. (business) A person with multidisciplinary expertise (due to rarity and value), especially three or more skills in a young field such as UX design or data science (e.g., domain knowledge, statistics, and software engineering).
    • 2011 November 1, Braden Kowitz, “Hiring a designer: hunting the unicorn”, in Google Ventures[1]:
      But I also think, “They’re looking for a unicorn — a magical designer who can solve all their problems.” It’s too bad unicorns don’t exist. … I have never met a designer who is an expert in all those skill areas. … Even if you find a unicorn designer with all those skills, actually doing all those things at your company is a huge amount of work.
    • 2015 October 3, Gil Press, “These Are The Skills You Need To (Eventually) Become A $240,000+ Unicorn Data Scientist”, in Forbes[2]:
      He believes that good data scientists, “otherwise known as unicorn data scientists,” have three types of expertise.
  11. (as a modifier) Brilliantly multicoloured.
    unicorn smoothies



  • (mythical creature) alicorn (unicorn horn)


  • (mythical creature) blessing (group of unicorns)

Derived terms[edit]


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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of unicorne