Old English pellicane, from Late Latin pelecanus, from Greek pelekan "pelican" (so used by Aristotle), apparently related to pelekas "woodpecker" and pelekys "ax," perhaps so called from the shape of the bird's bill. Spelling influenced in Middle English by Old French pelican. Used in Septuagint to translate Hebrew qaath. The fancy that it feeds its young on its own blood is an Egyptian tradition properly belonging to some other bird. Louisiana has been known as the Pelican state at least since 1859.
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