1. a large falcon, Falco rusticolus, of arctic and subarctic regions, having white, gray, or blackish color phases: now greatly reduced in number.


  1. a very large rare falcon, Falco rusticolus, of northern and arctic regions: often used for hunting

also gerfalcon, c.1200, from Old French girfauc “large northern falcon,” probably from Frankish, from Proto-Germanic *ger (cf. Old High German gir “vulture”) + Latin falco “hawk” (see falcon). Folk etymology connects it with Latin gyrus (see gyre) in reference to “circling” in the air.

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