aardvark

noun

aard·​vark ˈärd-ˌvärk How to pronounce aardvark (audio)
: a large burrowing nocturnal mammal (Orycteropus afer) of sub-Saharan Africa that has a long snout, extensible tongue, powerful claws, large ears, and heavy tail and feeds especially on termites and ants

Illustration of aardvark

Illustration of aardvark

Examples of aardvark in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the desert is for creatures more elusive still: wild dogs, cheetahs, aardvarks, brown hyenas, porcupine, and pangolins. Christopher Cameron, Robb Report, 28 Nov. 2023 The changes provided a foundation for later adaptations to feed on plants and larger animals; over time these pioneers became the Mesozoic equivalents of otters, raccoons, flying squirrels and aardvarks. Riley Black, Scientific American, 28 June 2023 At the Scripps National Spelling Bee, elementary- and middle-school children compete to see who can correctly spell the gnarliest words in the English language, from aardvark to zabaglione. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 May 2023 Researchers compared the genomes of these mammals with those of a diverse assortment of others, including an aardvark, a meerkat, a star-nosed mole and a human. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 27 Apr. 2023 Most significantly leopards, but also serval and caracal cats, aardvarks and aardwolves, as well as many smaller mammals and much of the bird and reptile life that had previously vanished. Joe Yogerst, CNN, 9 Mar. 2023 After over 250 episodes and movie specials, everyone’s favorite aardvark Arthur is coming to an end on PBS tonight with four very special episodes. Vulture, 21 Feb. 2022 There’s nothing more instantly recognizable about Arthur than its titular yellow-sweatered, eye-glassed aardvark, but the lyrics and music of the PBS KIDS’ series theme song might come in a close second. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Feb. 2022 Two Ohio zoos worked together to save an ailing aardvark last month. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 10 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aardvark.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from early Afrikaans aardvarken (modern erdvark), from aarde "earth" + vark "hog"; akin to Old English eorthe "earth" and to Old English fearh "young pig" — more at earth entry 1, farrow entry 1

Note: Current Afrikaans erdvark, as against early aardvarken, aardvark (with Afrikaans loss of the Dutch final syllable), reflects early competition in Afrikaans between standard Dutch aarde and the North/South Holland form erd(e) (with lengthened [e] or [ε]); as a simplex Afrikaans retains both with different senses: erd, "earth, clay," aarde "earth (the planet)."

First Known Use

1822, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aardvark was in 1822

Dictionary Entries Near aardvark

Cite this Entry

“Aardvark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aardvark. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

aardvark

noun
aard·​vark ˈärd-ˌvärk How to pronounce aardvark (audio)
: a large burrowing African mammal that feeds on insects and especially termites with its long sticky tongue
Etymology

from early Afrikaans (now erdvark), "earth pig"

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