1. Any of various often nocturnal birds of prey of the order Strigiformes, having hooked and feathered talons, a large head with a short hooked beak, large eyes set forward, and fluffy plumage that allows for almost noiseless flight.
2. Any of several breeds of domestic pigeons having a very short beak somewhat like that of an owl and often a frill of feathers on the chest.
[Middle English owle, from Old English ūle, of imitative origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.