From Middle English unicorne, unikorn, from Anglo-Norman unicorne, Old French unicorne, and their source, Latin ūnicornis, from ūnus (“one”) + cornū (“horn”). Other senses from either rarity (e.g., possessing multiple skills) or by physical resemblance to having a horn (e.g., howitzer). The finance sense was coined by American investor Aileen Lee in 2013 and first used in an article in TechCrunch.
unicorn (plural unicorns)
- A mythical beast resembling a horse or deer with a single, straight, spiraled horn projecting from its forehead.
- A heraldic representation of such a beast used as a charge or as a supporter; as in the arms of Great Britain and of Scotland.
- (historical) In various Bible translations, used to render the Latin unicornis or rhinoceros (representing Hebrew רְאֵם); a reem or wild ox.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Numbers 24:8:
- God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
- Any large beetle having a horn-like prominence on the head or prothorax, especially the Hercules beetle, Dynastes tityus.
- A caterpillar, Schizura unicornis, with a large thorn-like spine on the back near its head.
- The kamichi, or unicorn bird.
- (military) A howitzer.
- (sexual slang) A single, usually bisexual woman who participates in swinging and/or polyamory.
- (finance) A startup company whose valuation has exceeded one billion U.S. dollars, which is solely backed by venture capitalists, and which has yet to have an IPO.
- Coordinate term: decacorn
- 2017, Pongsak Hoontrakul, Economic Transformation and Business Opportunities in Asia, Springer (→ISBN), page 273:
- In May 2016, out of 163 global unicorns, China had 31, with a total valuation of $154 billion or about 26 percent of global unicorn valuation.
- (business) A person with multidisciplinary expertise (due to rarity and value), especially three or more skills in a young field such as UX design or data science (e.g., domain knowledge, statistics, and software engineering).
- 2011 November 1, Braden Kowitz, “Hiring a designer: hunting the unicorn”, in Google Ventures:
- But I also think, “They’re looking for a unicorn — a magical designer who can solve all their problems.” It’s too bad unicorns don’t exist. … I have never met a designer who is an expert in all those skill areas. … Even if you find a unicorn designer with all those skills, actually doing all those things at your company is a huge amount of work.
- 2015 October 3, Gil Press, “These Are The Skills You Need To (Eventually) Become A $240,000+ Unicorn Data Scientist”, in Forbes:
- He believes that good data scientists, “otherwise known as unicorn data scientists,” have three types of expertise.
- (attributive) Brilliantly multicoloured.
- unicorn smoothies
- (historical) A 15th-century Scottish gold coin worth 18 shillings, bearing the image of a unicorn.
- (sexual slang) To participate in a sexual threesome as a bisexual addition to an established heterosexual couple.
- 2017 January 13, E.J. Dickson, “This is why you haven't had a threesome yet”, in New York Post:
- Katja*, 27, has unicorned on two separate occasions.
- 2017 September 16, Anna Fitzpatrick, “'The Ethical Slut': Inside America's Growing Acceptance of Polyamory”, in Rolling Stone:
- “In Annie’s unicorning, she’s really able to try out other people’s relationships and see how they function from within,” Gillespie tells me.
- 2018 August 14, How to Be a Great Third in a Threesomeauthor=Allison Tierney:
- “Everyone wants the party, but nobody likes to plan,” explains Vixen Vu, a cam model who has been unicorning since she became sexually active.
- 2019 September 10, “New Savage Lovecast: Dental Dams Spoiler Alert! (Nobody Uses Them.)”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name):
- Also, Dan speaks with a bisexual man, whose first attempt at unicorning (yes, we verbed the word "unicorn,") went poorly, mainly due to his straight couple maybe getting a little too drunky?
- (finance) To exceed a valuation of one billion U.S. dollars, while solely backed by venture capitalists.
- 2014 November 3, Itay Hod, “The Airbnb of Home-Cooked Meals”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name):
- Since Waze, Soluto and Onavo, both Israeli startups, have had great exits in consumer tech, and Wix “unicorned” through its IPO.
- 2015 April 30, John Koetsier, “29 martech unicorns: There are now almost 30 $1B+ marketing technology vendors”, in Venture Beat:
- For eager investors looking to score in a future IPO, the eight still-private martech unicorns might be tempting. That list includes Domo, Slack, Sprinklr, Shopify, and EventBrite, all of which have “unicorned,” or surpassed the billion-dollar valuation mark, in the past year or two.
- 2018 April 1, Adrian Weckler, “Admit it: Irish tech is on the up”, in The Independent:
- For instance, at the same time as Intercom was announcing its unicorning moment, a young Dublin tech company called Let's Get Checked (letsgetchecked.com) raised €10m in a funding round.
- unicorn on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Category:unicorns on Wikimedia Commons.Wikimedia Commons
- unicorns on Wikiquote.Wikiquote
- Alternative form of