apo·​se·​mat·​ic ˌa-pə-si-ˈma-tik How to pronounce aposematic (audio)
: being conspicuous and serving to warn
aposematic coloration in butterflies
aposematically adverb

Examples of aposematic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The aposematic amphibians almost always evolve from species in the middle of that spectrum, those whose colors are shrouded unless in danger. Sofia Quaglia, Discover Magazine, 12 Apr. 2023 Indeed, vibrant patterns so often signal toxicity that biologists even have a special term for them: aposematic coloration. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2018 The minute creatures are vibrantly colored and speckled (a phenomena called aposematic coloration) in order to deter predators from eating them. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 26 Jan. 2022

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

Word History


apo- + Greek sēmat-, sêma "sign, signal" + -ic entry 1 — more at semantic

Note: The term was introduced by the British biologist Edward Bagnall Poulton (1856-1943) in The Colours of Animals (London, 1890), p. 337: "The second head (Sematic Colours) includes Warning Colours and Recognition Markings: the former warn an enemy off, and are therefore called Aposematic; the latter assist an individual of the same species, and are termed Episematic."

First Known Use

1890, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aposematic was in 1890

Dictionary Entries Near aposematic

Cite this Entry

“Aposematic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aposematic. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Last Updated: - Definition revised
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