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

Other Words from amphibian

amphibian adjective

Examples of amphibian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Finding an amphibian that was undetected for so long was valuable to scientists studying its habitat changes. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2022 But when an amphibian gets run over by a car, the death usually goes unnoticed. Joanna Lentini, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Mar. 2022 The good feelings stretch back to the Aztecs, who named the amphibian after Xolotl, the god of monsters. Sarah E. Needleman And Salvador Rodriguez, WSJ, 7 Mar. 2022 The Danish researchers set up three air filters for 30 hours at a time and were able to identify 49 vertebrates, including 30 mammals, 13 birds, four fish, one amphibian, and one reptile. Eric Niiler, Wired, 10 Jan. 2022 The infamous cane toad — feared for its toxicity and rapid proliferation — is rattling Taiwanese environmentalists and officials rushing to contain a sudden surge of the invasive amphibian. Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2021 The Caecilian, a legless amphibian that ranges from 5 centimeters to 5 feet long and resembles an eel or a snake, was discovered in a canal in Miami by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers. Chris Perkins,, 30 July 2021 Tailwind Air operates a fleet of Cessna Caravan amphibian seaplanes that are capable of landing on water or land., 3 Aug. 2021 But other species, such as the one found in Miami, prefer warm, slow-moving bodies of water with aquatic vegetation, which fits the description the Tamiami canal where the amphibian was netted in good health during a routine survey. Chris Perkins,, 30 July 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of amphibian was in 1749

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Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Amphibian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for amphibian


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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