al·li·ga·tor | \ˈa-lə-ˌgā-tər \

Definition of alligator 

1 : either of two large carnivorous, thick-skinned, long-bodied, aquatic, crocodilian reptiles (Alligator mississippiensis of the southeastern U.S. and A. sinensis of China) that have a broad head with a slightly tapered, long, rounded, U-shaped snout and a special pocket in the upper jaw for reception of the enlarged lower fourth tooth broadly : crocodilian

2 : leather made from alligator hide

Illustration of alligator

Illustration of alligator

alligator 1

Examples of alligator in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The woman was apparently dragged into a pond by a large alligator. CBS News, "Hissing alligator shot by deputy after girl forced to climb tree in Florida," 3 July 2018 Also called alligator bugs, peanut-head bugs have many defenses to deter their enemy, which is an insect-eating lizard, says Jo-Anne Sewlal, an entomologist at the University of the West Indies. National Geographic, "Meet the Bug That Armors Itself With Shells," 23 June 2018 Researchers from the University of Texas, Austin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing compared and contrasted mouth anatomy in several ancient reptiles to their modern descendants, like bobwhite quails and alligators. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Dinosaurs Could Barely Use Their Tongues," 20 June 2018 The case is stainless in 40mm and comes with an alligator strap. Matt Hranek, Condé Nast Traveler, "Time and Place: Baume & Mercier in L.A.," 20 June 2018 Most of the dinosaurs the team studied had short and simple hyoids, similar to those of alligators and crocodiles. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Actually, T. Rex Probably Couldn’t Stick Out Its Tongue," 22 June 2018 Wildlife trappers are still searching for the alligator in Lawne Lake, which is in Barnett Park off West Colonial Drive, FWC spokesman Chad Weber said. Michael Williams,, "Nesting gator bit man in Barnett Park, FWC confirms," 13 July 2018 South Florida is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles live alongside each other. Indianapolis Star, "Alligator made home in Indiana pond," 11 July 2018 Her aim is to rebrand and re-image alligators and crocodiles. Marco Santana,, "PODCAST: Gatorland's swamp girl Savannah Boan (Ep. 37)," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alligator.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alligator

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alligator

Spanish el lagarto the lizard, from el the (from Latin ille that) + lagarto lizard, from Vulgar Latin *lacartus, from Latin lacertus, lacerta — more at lizard

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Statistics for alligator

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for alligator

The first known use of alligator was in 1591

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English Language Learners Definition of alligator

: a large reptile that has a long body, thick skin, and sharp teeth, that lives in the tropical parts of the U.S. and China, and that is related to crocodiles

: the skin of an alligator used for making shoes and other products


al·li·ga·tor | \ˈa-lə-ˌgā-tər \

Kids Definition of alligator

: a large short-legged reptile that has a long body, thick skin, a long broad snout, and sharp teeth and is related to the crocodile and lizards

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Comments on alligator

What made you want to look up alligator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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