a bird of prey (= a bird that kills other creatures for food) with large round eyes, that hunts at night. Owls are traditionally thought to be wise. An owl hooted nearby. Owls prey on small rodents. see also barn owl, night owl, tawny owl See related entries: Birds Word Origin Old English ūle, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch uil and German Eule, from a base imitative of the bird's call.