What Is a Unicorn? – The All-Inclusive Definition

what is a unicorn

What is a unicorn? Well, it’s a magical creature with a single horn on its forehead, right? It’s not quite that simple, though. There are more than one way to define a unicorn.

Let’s start with the magical creature called a unicorn. Next, we’re going to talk about whether a single horn makes any animal a unicorn.

We will also have a look at the term ´unicorn´ in the human world. Can humans be unicorns too? And what on Earth are the troublesome unicorn hunters?

Today’s post will answer to all aspects of the question “What is a unicorn?”.

What Is a Unicorn? – A Magical Creature with a Single Horn

Unicorns are known for having a single horn on the forehead. Unicorns are also magical creatures.

The history of the unicorn myth in Europe began in 5th century BCE, when Ctesias wrote his natural history book Indica. On this book, Ctesias introduced a “one-horned wild ass”. This is where the modern unicorn myth evolved from.

The modern European unicorn is known as a horse-like magical creature with a single horn. However, the unicorn hasn’t always been like a horse. The medieval unicorn often resembled a goat.

In many cultures, the unicorn still looks different from a one-horned horse. The Chinese unicorn, qilin, resembles a dragon, while the Japanese unicorn, kirin, is often depicted as a deer-like one-horned animal.

What is common to all the different unicorn myths around the World, then? No matter if a unicorn resembles a horse, a deer or a dragon, unicorn is known as a magical creature with a single horn.

Unicorns usually have some healing magical powers. They can heal sickness and purify water with their horn.

But is this the only definition of a unicorn? Can only magical creatures be unicorns? To decide that, we need to have a look at the actual meaning of the word ‘unicorn’.

Unicorn Means “One-Horned” – Are All One-Horned Animals Unicorns?

The word ‘unicorn’ comes from the Latin word ‘unicornis’, which means “one-horned”. So, literally, a unicorn is a one-horned animal.

Wait, does that mean a unicorn doesn’t have to be magical? Well, if we want to broaden the definition of a unicorn to all one-horned animals, it does.

Animals like goats and deer with just one horn have been born. Some animal breeders even manipulate cows’ or goats’ horns, so that thy grow into one horn instead of two. Technically, these animals are unicorns, because they have one horn.

Does It Even Have to Be a Horn? – How About a Horn-Like Extension?

Of course, we can even argue about what is a unicorn horn.

A horn is not the same thing as an antler, for example. An antler, unlike a horn, is an extension of an animal’s skull. A horn is permanently attached to an animal’s head, but antlers can be shed and re-grown. However, the Japanese unicorn kirin sometimes has an antler, and it’s still called a unicorn.

Narwhals are often called “unicorns of the sea”, because they have a single “horn”. In reality, narwhals have a tusk, not a horn.

narwhal unicorn of the sea

Even dogs and rabbits have been called “unicorns”. Narwhal “the unicorn puppy” got his nickname for an extra tail growing on his forehead. One of Wonky the unicorn rabbit‘s ears sometimes points upwards like a unicorn horn, so he’s known as a “unicorn rabbit”.

So, it seems you don’t necessarily need a horn to be a unicorn. As long as you have a horn-like extension on your head; an antler, a tusk, an extra tail or a lopsided ear, you’re a unicorn.

Can Humans Be Unicorns?

I think now we know what a unicorn in the animal world is. Traditionally, a unicorn is a mythical, magical creature with a single horn. However, a unicorn can mean any animal, even a non-magical one, with a single horn or horn-like extension on its head.

How about humans? Can humans be unicorns?

If being a unicorn means you must have a horn-like extension on your head, there are even some humans who can be called unicorns. Some people have keratinous skin tumors called cutaneous horns. These tumors can appear on the head.

So, it is physically possible, although unusual, for a human to be a unicorn. But in the human world, the term “unicorn” has other meanings as well.

What Is a Unicorn Company?

In the venture capital industry, the word unicorn means a private startup company with a value of over $1 billion.

Most unicorn companies are born in the 2000s, and they include Airbnb, SpaceX and Über.

The reason why these businesses are called unicorns, is the fact that they are extremely rare; just like the magical creature called unicorn.

what is a unicorn company

So, does a unicorn also mean something that is extremely rare?

That’s how the term is often used. Therefore, any rare or special human could call themselves unicorns. You can be a “unicorn mom”, “unicorn baby”, “crafty unicorn”, whatever you want to be.

Then, there is the “bisexual unicorn”.

What Is a Bisexual Unicorn? – And the Troublesome Unicorn Hunters?

A bisexual unicorn is a single bisexual girl or woman who has casual sex with heterosexual couples.

The bisexual unicorn has also gained her nickname because of her rarity. Not so many women seek couples on their dating ads.

Unicorn hunters, on the other hand, are very visible in the online dating world. They are heterosexual couples looking for a bisexual woman to spice up their sex life with threesome. Usually, they have very specific qualifications for the unicorn they are looking for, especially when it comes to appearance.

Unicorn hunters can be very exhausting to deal with. For unicorn hunters, any bisexual woman is a potential unicorn, even if the woman is not interested in threesome at all.

What Is a Unicorn? – The All-Inclusive Definition

Traditionally, unicorn is a magical creature with a single horn on its forehead. The modern European unicorn is a horse-like, usually white animal with a horn on its forehead.

In other cultures, unicorns can look like a dragon or a deer. However, magical powers and a single horn on the forehead are common traits to all unicorns.

The literal meaning of the word ‘unicorn’ is “one-horned”, and it comes from the Latin word ´unicornis´. If we take the word ´unicorn´ literally, a unicorn can be any animal with a single horn.

Maybe it doesn’t even need to be a horn. Any horn-like extension, such as an antler or a tusk, on the animal’s head will do. So, a narwhal can be a unicorn too. Sometimes, although rarely, even humans can have a horn; a keratinous skin tumor called a cutaneous horn.

In the human world, the word ‘unicorn’ has other meanings as well. A unicorn company is a private startup company with a value of over $1 billion.

Sometimes, any rare or special people like to call themselves unicorns.

A bisexual unicorn is a single bisexual girl or woman who has casual sex with heterosexual couples.

Unicorn hunters are heterosexual couples looking for such a unicorn woman for casual sex. They often have very specific qualifications for the unicorn they wish to find.

 

As a conclusion, the word ‘unicorn’ has many definitions. It can mean a magical creature, a non-magical animal, a human or even a company.

Is there anything in common with all these different definitions? There certainly is; rarity. So, the broadest definition for ‘unicorn’ is something extremely rare and hard to find.

What is a unicorn in your opinion? Does it only mean the magical creature to you? Do you think it’s any one-horned animal? Or do you think all the different definitions of ‘unicorn’ are valid? Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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10 Comments

  1. This is an interesting article.  I never really delved that much into Unicorns and their history.  I typically think of Unicorns being mythical creatures that fly around and have powers.  I never knew the human application of the word unicorn today so that was something new to me.  Interesting facts!

    1. Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. The mythical, magical creature is definitely the most common meaning of the unicorn. “Ordinary” unicorns don’t have wings, so they can’t fly. But there is a unicorn species called winged unicorn, and they can fly. So the flying around is also true for some unicorns.

  2. Hi Kirsti, oh my, what a masterpiece you have created here.  OK, I have many questions but first, let me just say that a unicorn to me is a mythical magical creature. When I see stuffed animals in shapes of unicorns I get so excited and wish I was younger so I can play with them.

    As a matter of fact, our neighbor this last summer bought a blowup unicorn for his daughter to play with it in the pool. I was so tempted to go and play with the daughter(OK play with the unicorn) lol.

    There is a part of your article that I found super fascinating. the part about the unicorn hunters, wow, very interesting, so people actually get online looking for bisexual women to have threesomes with? That is very interesting to me, but I don’t like the part where they just see any bisexual woman as a unicorn even if she is not interested.

    Here comes my first question, in my country, we have Rhinos, and as we know a Rhino has one horn, could we consider a Rhino a kind of a unicorn?

    And another question, you mentioned in your article that there are some animal breeders that manipulated goats, and cows so they can just grow one horn, and resemble a unicorn. Is there a special reason why they would want a goat to resemble a unicorn?

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to take over your article so I will stop there, and leave space for others to comment lol. Very nice and informative article Kirsti, I really enjoyed reading it.

    Rose.

    1. Hello Rose,

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words! 

      You know what, Rose, there’s no age limit to playing with stuffed animals. 🙂 If you want a cute unicorn soft toy, go ahead and get one, just for yourself. I have many stuffed animals at home, and I even play with them sometimes. And I don’t even have kids.

      By the way, unicorn pool floats are quite popular even with adults. Some of them are huge, so they seem to be actually targeted for grown-ups. I would get one for myself, if only the summer here would be a bit warmer and longer, so that there would be more opportunities to actually lounge on the unicorn float.

      Yes, many heterosexual couples (or the wife might be bisexual) look for bisexual women for threesome on online dating sites. Nothing wrong with that, but they can seem quite attacking when they approach bisexual or even lesbian women on the sites, even if these women aren’t interesting in seeing couples. 

      I have personal experience with being contacted by unicorn hunters (probably all bisexual women who have ever tried online dating have). Now I’m married, so no need for dating anymore, but when I was younger I did try online dating. And I mentioned on my ad I’m a bisexual. So, of course the unicorn hunters approached me as a potential unicorn, even though I wasn’t interesting in threesome or dating couples.

      Absolutely, rhinos can be considered a kind of unicorn. It is even believed, that the rhino could be one of the animals that inspired the unicorn myth in the first place! There are other animals that probably influenced the myth too; the “Tibetan unicorn” (Tibetan antelope), the Persian wild ass and the wild yak. 

      That’s a good question. I’m not sure why the breeders want a cow or goat to look like a unicorn. Maybe they like unicorns, or they just want the animal to look extraordinary. That’s what animal breeders sometimes want.

      Thank you for your awesome comment, Rose. Have a magical day!

  3. Hey… I’ve gotten a couple of additional meanings. For me, besides the mithical creatures and the rare (but all natural and still not extinguished Narwhals, an unicor is, as stablished by Aileen Lee, any tech that reaches a $1 billion dollars as it’s market value.

    There has been reported some cases of humans with one “corne” comming out of their forehead. 

    It night also make reference to the simbol of the same creature to represent a femenin movement of liberation without precedent in human history.

    The most magical one is the lost Blue Unicorn that used to belong to Silvio Rodriguez, as he cry for losing it on the letter of his song titled, guess how… Yes, “Mi Unicornio Azul” (My Blue Unicorn).

    Thanks a lot for making me exercise my imagination!  

    1. Hello Juan,

      Yes, there are people who have tumors on their head that look like horns. But even stranger, there are people who have voluntarily taken horn implants on their forehead.

      I’ve been trying to find new unicorn songs, and that’s one I had never heard of before; “Mi Unicornio Azul”. Awesome, thank you for sharing this song! I learned something new too.

  4. Hello,

    Thanks for sharing a unique post about the unicorn. The article is easy to read and funny also, knowledgeable. I didn’t even think that the unicorn can be in many ways; I thought the unicorn exists only in kid’s movies or stories.

    You saying that the UBER is the unicorn, but how about Lyft? It is rare, and the company doesn’t have a service in every state of the US. I don’t think I would call the AIRBNB unicorn because this company has many users ( just my opinion).

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading the article; it is different from what I was reading before.

    1. Hi,

      Thank you! 🙂

      I had to investigate a bit, so that I could answer your question. I found out Lyft is worth $30 billion, so it is indeed a unicorn company. 

      However, a company doesn’t need to be rare or hard to find to be a unicorn company. It only needs to be a privately held startup company with a value of over $1 billion. Meeting this criteria is rare itself, so this kind of company is called a unicorn. 

      You’re right, Airbnb has many users. But it is still a privately held startup company with a value of more than $1 billion. So, according to the definition, it is considered a unicorn company.

  5. Hi Kirsti. Thank you for sharing this well structured and informative article describing and explaining what a unicorn truly is. From what I have read so far, it is obvious that I am only familiar with the Modern European Union. I have always known a unicorn to be am horse like creature with a single horn. It’s amazing to see that is not always the case. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    Regards!

    1. Hi,

      Happy to hear you learned something new about unicorns here. Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment!

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Kirsti

I'm a writer, a unicorn lover and a day dreamer. I want to share the magical world of unicorns with you.

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