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Gather 'round the campfire
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Urban legends

The unicorn is a type of mythical beast famous for its horn. Traditionally they had the head of a deer, elephant's feet and a lion's tail,[1] but most modern depictions of them show a white horse with a horn. They should not be confused with some rhinos, which also have hooves and one horn.

Another common form of the unicorn is described as more goatlike than horselike.[2] Unicorns in the Bible can be violent and deadly,[3] so it's perhaps odd that they have come to be considered "girly".

According to legend they avoid paths and tend to travel at the boundaries. As they are attracted to innocence, they are susceptible to virgins.[4] Although some young children believe in unicorns they tend to stop at around the same age they stop believing in Santa Claus.

A unicorn horn is reputed to be a test for poisons and a cure for same.[5]

Not a narwhal.

In the Bible[edit]

The Bible talks about unicorns a lot, which can be seen hereWikipedia's W.svg. Other translations say "wild oxen" but that is blasphemy.[6] Answers in Genesis has stated that "To think of the biblical unicorn as a fantasy animal is to demean God's Word, which is true in every detail", even though the KJV is the only version of the Bible that mentions them.[7] Unicorns are jokingly believed to have missed the boat when Noah's Ark set sail and to have become extinct that way, and this idea has been mocked in poems and cartoons.[8]

The virgin birth of Jesus relates to virgin maidens being able to attract and calm down unicorns.[9] This is kind of weird, as apparently in early Christian mythology the unicorn represented Christ and the Virgin was Mary.[10]

In real life[edit]


A seahorse sea-unicorn

Male narwhals (marine mammals related to whales and dolphins[11]) have a large tooth that erupts from the top of the head and grows forward with a spiral structure. Medieval and early-modern European unicorns had spiral-structure horns that grew out of the fronts of their heads and that were made of ivory. The resemblance indicates that medieval and early-modern narwhal-horn collectors were not lying about the fact that the horns they possessed were the only horns which the animal had and that they grew on the heads of their owners - how they came up with the rest of the animal is open to conjecture.

Interestingly Darwin mentioned the narwhal as an example of natural selection causing the exaggeration of secondary sex characteristics.


A US patent was issued in 1987, now expired, for creating one-horned goats using surgery.[12] The procedure involves translation of the horn growth buds in young goats to a single point before they emerge.


An artistic rendering of E. caucasicum

Elasmotherium is an extinct genus of rhinoceros from Eurasia, some species of which lived as late as 29,000 years ago, and would therefore have lived among modern humans. The Elasmotherium may have been responsible for a Tatar legend of a unicorn-like animal.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

The term unicorn has come to represent any fabulous beast which many desire to find and possess, but which proves to be mythical enormously elusive. The term is often, though not exclusively, used in a sexual context. Seeking such is known, predictably, as unicorn hunting. Examples include:

  • a hawt bisexual woman without human qualities baggage or hangups, who is eager to join a couple for threesomes and possibly form a triad
  • an extremely passable transsexual sex object woman with a large, fully-functional penis, and an inclination to use it[14]
  • a sane Scientologist
  • a non-racist Confederate States of America fan
  • incontrovertible evidence of the literal truth of the Genesis account of creation
  • A fundamentalist editor who uses impeccable logic and accurate, well-documented facts, and also scrupulously avoids any resort to any logical fallacy whatsoever. No, really, the hawt bisexual woman's your best bet.
  • In the manosphere, it means a perfect, loving, faithful girlfriend or wife (usually attractive and non-"slutty" to boot)

Winged unicorns[edit]

Unicorns do not have wings in traditional representations. A winged unicorn (an absurd concept, but lots of absurd concepts have Wikipedia pages) is sometimes called a pegacorn, unipeg, cerapter, or alicorn.[15] According to TV Tropes, in situations where hierarchies of fictional equines are found, alicorns are better than both unicorns and pegasuses (winged horses), though comparatively rating a pegasus and unicorn is more tricky.[16]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Unicorn.
  1. Pliny, The Natural History Book VIII, Chapter XXXI
  2. e.g., Daniel 8:5
  3. Isaiah 34:6-8: "(6) The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. (7) And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. (8) For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion."
  5. Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, book III, ch. xxiii
  6. If you consider the KJV (which uses unicorn) to be the ultimate version of the Bible, then translations away from that would indeed be blasphemous.
  7. Chapter 32: Unicorns in the Bible?
  8. Image of Unicorns missing the Ark, printed in The New York Times in 1956.
  9. Christian Symbols
  10. The unicorn, since it was associated with strength, represented Christ. Of course the virgin was the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  11. See the Wikipedia article on Narwhal.
  12. US Patent 4429685 A
  13. "Siberian Unicorn" Went Extinct Much Later Than We Thought by Janet Fang (March 28, 2016) IFL Science!
  14. Okay, we'll leave the other sexual meanings alone now. (Trust me, most people aren't interested…)
  15. See the Wikipedia article on Winged unicorn.
  16. Winged Unicorn, TV Tropes