box turtle


Definition of box turtle

1 : any of several North American land turtles (genus Terrapene) capable of withdrawing into their shell and closing it by hinged joints in the lower half

called also box tortoise

2 : any of several chiefly semiaquatic, Asian turtles (genera Cuora and Pyxidea of the family Geoemydidae) that have a carapace with a median keel and are capable of withdrawing into their shell and closing it by hinged joints in the plastron

Note: The Asian box turtles are not closely related to the North American box turtles.

Illustration of box turtle

Illustration of box turtle

Examples of box turtle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The family also has a Russian tortoise, a couple of box turtles, some redfoot tortoises and a leopard tortoise. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "A veteran’s gratitude to a tortoise inspired unusual rescue group," 29 Aug. 2019 The interest in the ornate box turtles reaches beyond Illinois. Fox News, "Specially trained dogs try to save threatened turtle species," 26 June 2019 There were the 2,000 or so box turtles let loose on South Michigan Avenue — allegedly on the orders of a petulant Al Capone — as well as a humble garter snake that subdued an escaped gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Nara Schoenberg,, "Chicago alligator joins a long line of local reptiles that have stirred up trouble. Here are some of the most famous.," 16 July 2019 The volunteer rescue treats turtles as big as 14-inch snapping turtles and as small as silver dollar-sized eastern box turtles. Scottie Andrew And Nadeem Muaddi, CNN, "Sometimes, all it takes to save an injured turtle is a bra. No, seriously," 29 June 2019 Species like the ornate box turtle really suffer from that. Fox News, "Specially trained dogs try to save threatened turtle species," 26 June 2019 Habitat destruction threatens the ornate box turtle’s survival in Iowa. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Very Good Dogs Helped Track Threatened Turtles in Iowa," 7 June 2019 Their habitat needs to be cleaned more often than many people realize, although water turtles require less maintenance than box turtle or other varieties. Washington Post, "Turtles can make great pets, but do your homework first," 5 June 2018 But if your family is in the mood to see a larger array of creatures, check out the Star Eco Station in Culver City, a rescue center that houses all sorts of animals, including Solomon Island skinks, bobcats and box turtles. Alice Short,, "School's out! 12 fun things for kids (and adults) to do this summer," 22 June 2018

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

circa 1804, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

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The first known use of box turtle was circa 1804

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