- any of several large, totipalmate, fish-eating birds of the family Pelecanidae, having a large bill with a distensible pouch.
- a still or retort with two tubes that leave the body from the neck, curve in opposite directions, and reenter the body through the belly.
- any aquatic bird of the tropical and warm water family Pelecanidae, such as P. onocrotalus (white pelican): order Pelecaniformes. They have a long straight flattened bill, with a distensible pouch for engulfing fish
n.Old English pellicane, from Late Latin pelecanus, from Greek pelekan “pelican” (so used by Aristotle), apparently related to pelekas “woodpecker” and pelekys “ax,” perhaps so called from the shape of the bird’s bill. Spelling influenced in Middle English by Old French pelican. Used in Septuagint to translate Hebrew qaath. The fancy that it feeds its young on its own blood is an Egyptian tradition properly belonging to some other bird. Louisiana has been known as the Pelican state at least since 1859.