am·​phib·​i·​an | \ am-ˈfi-bē-ən How to pronounce amphibian (audio) \

Definition of amphibian

1 : an amphibious organism especially : any of a class (Amphibia) of cold-blooded vertebrates (such as frogs, toads, or salamanders) intermediate in many characters between fish and reptiles and having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing adults Unlike reptiles, most amphibians possess a smooth, moist skin and lay their shell-less eggs in water or wet places. — Jeffrey P. Cohn
2 : an amphibious vehicle especially : an airplane designed to take off from and land on either land or water

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Other Words from amphibian

amphibian adjective

Examples of amphibian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While Alabama has dozens of fish, mussels, snails and plants that are found nowhere else in the world, the Red Hills salamander may be the only amphibian that is found in Alabama and nowhere else. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Endangered Alabama salamander gets new preserve," 16 Dec. 2020 The salamander is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and is the official state amphibian of Alabama. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Endangered Alabama salamander gets new preserve," 16 Dec. 2020 The amphibian has a wide, gentle smile, which encourages the author to smile even when things get tough. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Ten Best Books About Travel of 2020," 25 Nov. 2020 Furie’s lifelong frog fandom led to an amphibian named Pepe becoming one of the comic’s lead foursome. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Feels Good Man, a film that truly gets how things are passed across the Internet," 27 Sep. 2020 Mining, tourism development and expanding cities in Chile's north, home to the world´s largest copper industry, all compete for water with the tiny amphibian. Reuters, CNN, "'Ghost' frog not seen for 80 years rediscovered in desert hot spring," 24 Sep. 2020 Some populations of this common amphibian are covered in a deadly neurotoxin—a compound called tetrodotoxin (TTX) that causes paralysis and is also found in most species of pufferfish as well as the notorious blue-ringed octopus. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Toxic Newts Use Bacteria to Become Deadly Prey," 23 Apr. 2020 The cane toad, also known as the bufo toad, is a poisonous amphibian that, when provoked, is known to produce a milky white toxin on its back, a substance that can be particularly dangerous to house pets. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, "Florida tells residents to humanely kill these invasive, toxic toads that are lethal to pets," 12 June 2020 After spotting a target, keep the light trained on its eyes, which serves to effectively blind and confuse the amphibian. Johnny Sain, Outdoor Life, "Frog Gigging is Cheap, Hot, Muddy Fun," 11 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'amphibian.' 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 amphibian

1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for amphibian

New Latin Amphibia, taxon including frogs and salamanders (from neuter plural of amphibius amphibious) + -an entry 1

Note: As a taxon Amphibia was used as a class name already by linnaeus (Systema naturae, 10. editio, 1758, p. 196 et passim), but in a sense that included both amphibians and some reptiles. Limitation of the taxon to approximately its current meaning dates from Thomas Gray's "A Synopsis of the Genera of Reptiles and Amphibia" (Annals of Philosophy, new series vol. 10, July-December, 1825, pp.193-217) according to Darrel R. Frost, et al., "The Amphibian Tree of Life," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, No. 297 (2006), p. 355. The use of both English amphibian and Latin amphibius with varying gender and number to refer to animals living on both land and sea (and in figurative senses) can be found much earlier.

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Time Traveler for amphibian

Time Traveler

The first known use of amphibian was in 1749

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Statistics for amphibian

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Amphibian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for amphibian



English Language Learners Definition of amphibian

: an animal (such as a frog or toad) that can live both on land and in water
: an airplane or vehicle that can be used both on land and water


am·​phib·​i·​an | \ am-ˈfi-bē-ən How to pronounce amphibian (audio) \

Kids Definition of amphibian

1 : any of a group of cold-blooded vertebrate animals (as frogs and toads) that have gills and live in water as larvae but breathe air as adults
2 : an airplane designed to take off from and land on either land or water

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