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 reptiles were mostly snakes, but also tortoises, box turtles, monitor lizards, little alligators, and water dragons, said Kathy Shillinglaw, outreach coordinator at MADACC. Hannah Kirby, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Police removed 53 reptiles, including little alligators, from a West Allis home over the weekend," 21 Apr. 2020 There are possession limits for other species such as box turtles and diamondback terrapins. Kimberly Miller, USA TODAY, "Officials are cracking down on turtle smugglers in Florida," 22 Feb. 2020 The ornate box turtle is a land-dwelling turtle found between the Rockies and Mississippi River Valley. Cathy M. Rosenthal,, "Animals Matter: Turtles stolen from Colorado find new homes in Texas," 28 Feb. 2020 On a recent Friday morning — on a day off from her paying job — Meyer sat down on her outdoor patio to tend to Tommy, an eastern box turtle whose toes were eaten off by mites. Elise Takahama, The Seattle Times, "‘I love ’em to death’: Kennewick woman gives home to hundreds of neglected tortoises," 5 Aug. 2019 Gangemi was part of a syndicate of wildlife smugglers involved in the purchase and transportation of three-toed and western box turtles from Oklahoma to New Jersey. USA TODAY, "Baby elephant, cougars, dognapper, burning treehouse: News from around our 50 states," 24 Oct. 2019 The undercover agent who had first inquired about the turtles contacted the man again about Malaysian box turtles, which under an international treaty require a permit to ship. Linda Satter, Arkansas Online, "Grand jury indicts central Arkansas man tied to salamander imports," 8 Dec. 2019 The wardens did find, however, two ornate box turtles and one red-eared slider. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Game wardens search for missing gator, and other field notes from Texas Game Wardens," 20 Dec. 2019 Biles also offers a sculpture of a little girl atop a box turtle in which the shell’s pattern has migrated to the child’s face and hands. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: ‘Sea of Change’ exhibition sets the voyage on a different course," 6 Dec. 2019

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 at sense 1

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The first known use of box turtle was circa 1804

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Cite this Entry

“Box turtle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2020.

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