an·​hin·​ga an-ˈhiŋ-gə How to pronounce anhinga (audio)
: any of a genus (Anhinga) of fish-eating birds related to the cormorants but distinguished by a longer neck and sharply pointed rather than hooked bill
especially : one (A. anhinga) occurring from the southern U.S. to Argentina

Examples of anhinga in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At our next stop, an anhinga perches in a cove, drying black wings marked with white feathers resembling piano keys. Robin Soslow, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Birds required to be protected include anhinga, cormorant, great blue heron, great egret and snowy egret, all of which have different nesting periods. Mark Schleifstein,, 14 Dec. 2017 Anhinga Amble, 10:30-11:20 a.m. Saturday at Everglades National Park at Royal Palm. Jennifer Jhon, South Florida Parenting, 17 May 2017

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, borrowed from Tupi ayíŋa (phonetically ãĩŋã)

Note: This word entered zoological literature through Georg Marcgrave and Willem Piso's Historia naturalis Brasiliae (Leiden and Amsterdam, 1648), p. 218, though it does not appear to be otherwise documented in Tupi before attestations in 19th-century Amazonian Lingua Geral (a Tupi-based lingua franca). Not an entry in Antônio Geraldo da Cunha, Dicionário histórico das palavras portuguesas de origem tupi (São Paulo, 1978); the usual names for the bird in Brazil are carará and biguatinga (both also from Tupi). The genus name was introduced by Mathurin Jacques Brisson in Ornithologie, ou Méthode Contenant la Division des Oiseaux (Paris, 1760), vol. 6, pp. 476-79, based on Marcgrave and Piso. Since about the year 2000, accounts in popular literature began to claim that the literal meaning of anhinga is "devil bird" (e.g., "The name 'anhinga' is from the Tupi in Brazil, meaning a devil bird or evil spirit"—Diana Wells, 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names, Chapel Hill, 2002, p. 229; "Tupi name Anhinga little head, for an evil spirit of the forests, the devil bird"—James A. Jobling, The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names, London, 2010 p. 48). This notion perhaps reflects confusion with Tupi anhanga "demon, devil" (glossed by Portuguese "diabo" in the anonymous Vocabulário na Língua Brasílica, 1621), a distinct word that has no relation to anhinga other than nearness of sound.

First Known Use

1769, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of anhinga was in 1769

Dictionary Entries Near anhinga

Cite this Entry

“Anhinga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


an·​hin·​ga an-ˈhiŋ-gə How to pronounce anhinga (audio)
: a fish-eating bird having a long neck and sharply pointed bill and occurring from the southern U.S. to Argentina

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