cai·​man ˈkā-mən How to pronounce caiman (audio)
variants or less commonly
: any of several Central and South American crocodilians (genera Caiman, Melanosuchus, and Paleosuchus) similar to alligators

Examples of caiman in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Most of the caimans sold in stores were spectacled caimans — a species so named for the glasses-like ridge that runs along their snouts. Freda Kreier, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2023 Savvy businesspeople soon brought live caimans stateside. Freda Kreier, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2023 Long after, about 13 million years before the present, the huge caiman relative Purussaurus cracked open turtles in ancient South America. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Apr. 2023 Nature lovers venture to this remote wilderness area to peep sea turtles, manatees, speckled caimans, and birds while navigating the canals on a canoe. Lindsay Cohn, Travel + Leisure, 6 June 2023 When the sun goes down, we were told, the Brazilian wandering spiders, bullet ants, poison dart frogs, snakes, giant centipedes, jaguars, anacondas and black caimans come out. Virginia Hammerle, Dallas News, 23 Apr. 2023 Their diet consists of birds, fish, small mammals, rodents and even caiman. Allison Futterman, Discover Magazine, 1 Sep. 2022 Now at Casa Bambú, amid the banana trees and birds-of-paradise, the only threats were the strong currents at the beach and the three caimans said to live in the river behind the hotel. Anika Fajardo, Travel + Leisure, 10 Mar. 2023 In the years that followed, scientists found fossils from all manner of Cretaceous Period creatures buried at the site, including turtles and the oldest caiman, a kind of croc, known to science. Eric Betz, Discover Magazine, 19 July 2018 See More

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

Word History


Spanish caimán, probably from Carib caymán

First Known Use

1577, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of caiman was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near caiman

Cite this Entry

“Caiman.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also cayman
: any of several Central and South American reptiles closely related to and resembling alligators

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