Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various diving seabirds of the family Alcidae of northern regions, having a chunky body, short wings, and webbed feet, such as the razorbill and the murres.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A diving bird belonging to the family Alcidæ and the order Pygopodes, characterized by having 3 toes, webbed feet, and short wings and tail.
  • Same as awk.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A name given to various species of arctic sea birds of the family Alcidæ. The great auk, now extinct, is Alca impennis (or Plautus impennis) . The razor-billed auk is Alca torda. See puffin, guillemot, and murre.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of several species of Arctic sea birds of the family Alcidae.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun black-and-white short-necked web-footed diving bird of northern seas

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Norwegian alk, from Old Norse ālka.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Icelandic álka, from Old Norse álka ("auk"), from Proto-Germanic *allakōn, *allōn (“sea-bird”), from Proto-Indo-European *el- (a kind of bird). Cognate with Swedish alka ("auk"), Danish alke ("auk"), Swedish dialectal alla (fuligula glacialis, "long-tailed duck"), Latin olor ("swan"), Ancient Greek ελέα (eléa, "marsh-bird"), Welsh alarch ("swan").

Examples

  • Decades before the Civil War astute observers noticed a decline in bison numbers and predicted that, like the great auk, the shaggy beasts would ultimately disappear.

    Between War and Peace

  • Can genetic engineers do the same for the great auk?

    Habitat Loss Isn't the Villain of Species Extinction

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

  • On my way out, I take a few pictures of a great auk skeleton on a stand.

    The Memory Palace

  • On my way out, I take a few pictures of a great auk skeleton on a stand.

    The Memory Palace

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

  • With huge 200,000-strong colonies of little auk thronging the cliffs and shores, kittiwakes next to the cobalt blue glaciers, walrus wallowing in the shallows, Arctic foxes, whales and, of course, one of the ultimate wildlife sightings, the mighty polar bear, frequently seen hunting in its frosty backyard on ice floes.

    Paul Steele: Photographic Dreams Of The Wild Do Come True

Comments

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  • I have a new-found love for the little auk (Alle alle). I present to you a tribute (ongoing).

    November 13, 2008

  • The sound file is great! Auksome! What a Mad Clown Symphony!

    November 13, 2008

  • It's on my Coolest Birds Ever list. Even more charming in person.

    November 13, 2008

  • Ahem--so where is this list, reesetee?

    November 13, 2008

  • Yeah, you should make a bird list, rt.

    November 13, 2008

  • Me? But why would I make a bird list? Silly idea.

    BAhahaha! I knew I couldn't keep a straight face on that one!

    November 13, 2008

  • Reminds me I need to link the sound file back to the RSPB whence it was pilfered. Coff! (No-one had listed little auk…)

    November 14, 2008

  • I've never actually seen these birds. Does an auk walk aukwardly?

    November 14, 2008

  • Not to be confused with the Auke, an Alaska native group related to the Tlingit. Hence Auke Bay, Alaska (near Juneau), which has no auks.

    November 14, 2008

  • Nor to be confused with the text-processing language awk. Which was on my short list of kid's names back when I was trying to convince my wife that all our children should be named after Unix command-line utilities: little awk, his sister sed, etc. Didn't get very far with that one.

    November 14, 2008