1. (Science: ornithology) Any cpecies of raptorial birds of the family Strigidae. They have large eyes and ears, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye. They are mostly nocturnal in their habits.
Some species have erectile tufts of feathers on the head. The feathers are soft and somewhat downy. The species are numerous. See barn owl, Burrowing owl, eared owl, hawk owl, horned owl, screech owl, snowy owl, under Barn Burrowing, etc.
In the Scriptures the owl is commonly associated with desolation; poets and story-tellers introduce it as a bird of ill omen. . . . The greeks and romans made it the emblem of wisdom, and sacred to minerva, and indeed its large head and solemn eyes give it an air of wisdom.
Origin: AS. Le; akin to D. Uil, OHG. Wila, G. Eule, Icel. Ugla, Sw. Ugla, Dan. Ugle.