- any of several flightless, aquatic birds of the family Spheniscidae, of the Southern Hemisphere, having webbed feet and wings reduced to flippers.
- Obsolete. great auk.
- any flightless marine bird, such as Aptenodytes patagonica (king penguin) and Pygoscelis adeliae (Adélie penguin), of the order Sphenisciformes of cool southern, esp Antarctic, regions: they have wings modified as flippers, webbed feet, and feathers lacking barbsSee also emperor penguin, king penguin
- an obsolete name for great auk
n.1570s, originally used of the great auk of Newfoundland (now extinct), shift in meaning to the Antarctic bird (which looks something like it, found by Drake in Magellan’s Straits in 1578) is from 1580s. Of unknown origin, though often asserted to be from Welsh pen “head” (see pen-) + gwyn “white” (see Gwendolyn), but Barnhart says the proposed formation is not proper Welsh. The great auk had a large white patch between its bill and eye. The French and Breton versions of the word ultimately are from English.