al·​li·​ga·​tor | \ ˈa-lə-ˌgā-tər How to pronounce alligator (audio) \

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 Its specialty meats are bison, venison, elk, alligator, ostrich, rabbit, veal and goat. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "A meat and seafood market with more than 700 products is coming to Frisco," 11 Feb. 2021 An adult great blue heron caught a juvenile alligator and flew with it to the lakeside location where Gilliam filmed it. NBC News, "Florida bird caught on video swallowing whole alligator," 10 Dec. 2020 Holt is a Seminole alligator wrestler a few years retired. Murat Oztaskin, The New Yorker, "How Florida’s Seminole Tribe Transformed Alligator Wrestling Into a Symbol of Independence," 27 Jan. 2021 The act is credited with the recovery of several iconic species, including the brown pelican, American alligator, Louisiana black bear and bald eagle. Tristan Baurick,, "Lawsuit aims to force federal action before the Pearl River's namesake fish goes extinct," 23 Jan. 2021 Some of the objects flaunted the original animal: the head of an alligator biting closed a pocketbook, the paws of a white fox dangling from a stole. Elizabeth Mccracken, Harpers Magazine, "The Souvenir Museum," 5 Jan. 2021 In early December, Florida wildlife photographer Shellie Gilliam captured video of a great blue heron swallowing whole a juvenile alligator. René A. Guzman,, "The great blue heron towers above other water birds," 29 Dec. 2020 Despite having no tools available, four deputies lifted the concrete slab covering the sewage drain to free the people-watching alligator. Chris Perkins,, "Florida alligator peeking out of a street drain turns into a case of ‘gator aid’," 22 Dec. 2020 Just a month earlier, the tiny puppy was locked in the jaws of an alligator that pulled him into the pond in his family's backyard. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "A puppy rescued from the jaws of alligator has been honored as a 'Deputy Dog'," 19 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for alligator

Time Traveler

The first known use of alligator was in 1591

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Statistics for alligator

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Alligator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce alligator (audio) \

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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