- any of several birds of prey of the family Falconidae, especially of the genus Falco, usually distinguished by long, pointed wings, a hooked beak with a toothlike notch on each side of the upper bill, and swift, agile flight, typically diving to seize prey: some falcon species are close to extinction.
- a small, light cannon in use from the 15th to the 17th century.
- (initial capital letter) Military. a family of air-to-air guided missiles, some of them capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
- any diurnal bird of prey of the family Falconidae, esp any of the genus Falco (gyrfalcon, peregrine falcon, etc), typically having pointed wings and a long tail
- any of these or related birds, trained to hunt small game
- the female of such a birdCompare tercel Related adjective: falconine
- a light-medium cannon used from the 15th to 17th centuries
mid-13c., from Old French faucon (12c.), from Late Latin falconem (nominative falco) “falcon,” probably from Latin falx (genitive falcis) “curved blade, pruning hook, sickle;” the bird said to be so called for the shape of its talons, legs, or beak, but also possibly from the shape of its spread wings.
The other theory is that falx is of Germanic origin and means “gray bird,” which is supported by the antiquity of the word in Germanic but opposed by those who point out that falconry by all evidences was imported from the East, and the Germans got it from the Romans, not the other way around.