car·​niv·​o·​rous | \ kär-ˈni-v(ə-)rəs How to pronounce carnivorous (audio) \

Definition of carnivorous

1 : subsisting or feeding on animal tissues
2 of a plant : subsisting on nutrients obtained from the breakdown of animal protoplasm (as of insects)
3 : of or relating to the carnivores
4 : rapacious

Other Words from carnivorous

carnivorously adverb
carnivorousness noun
carnivory \ kär-​ˈni-​və-​rē How to pronounce carnivorous (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

The order of mammals that Linnaeus named the Carnivora includes such families as the dogs, the bears, the raccoons, the weasels, the hyenas, the cats, and the seals. Most carnivores eat only meat in the wild, but some have varied diets; some bears, for instance, normally eat far more vegetation than meat. Carnivores have powerful jaws and complex teeth, and most are highly intelligent. Humans, like their ape cousins, are basically omnivores.

Examples of carnivorous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Researchers identified the plant to be carnivorous by using fruit flies labeled with nitrogen-15 isotopes, the release said. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, 10 Aug. 2021 Therapods were carnivorous dinosaurs with small forelimbs that walked on two feet, like other creatures in that group such as the Tyrannosaurus rex and the velociraptor. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 22 Dec. 2021 Theropods were carnivorous dinosaurs that ran on two legs. Megan Marples, CNN, 9 Dec. 2021 Some carnivorous dinosaurs, for instance, had bird-like feathers, as illustrated on some of the dinosaurs on display. Rodney Ho, ajc, 29 Nov. 2021 Also, be on the lookout for carnivorous pitcher plants within the forest. Patrick Connolly,, 26 Nov. 2021 Sievert plays Seymour, the lovestruck florist-shop nebbish who unexpectedly becomes the caretaker of a carnivorous and increasingly hungry hunk of vegetation. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 15 Nov. 2021 Most impressive was the crunch on the skin, which ripped apart in a pleasing, carnivorous way. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Nov. 2021 Using drain pipes as highways, the carnivorous mammals traverse the city, sometimes popping up in rush-hour traffic, or racing through university campuses. Washington Post, 22 Oct. 2021

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

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for carnivorous

Latin carnivorus, from carn-, caro + -vorus -vorous

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Time Traveler for carnivorous

Time Traveler

The first known use of carnivorous was in 1592

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Carnivorous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for carnivorous


car·​niv·​o·​rous | \ kär-ˈni-və-rəs How to pronounce carnivorous (audio) \

Kids Definition of carnivorous

: feeding on animal flesh or tissue Wolves are carnivorous animals.


car·​niv·​o·​rous | \ kär-ˈniv-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce carnivorous (audio) \

Medical Definition of carnivorous

1 : subsisting or feeding on animal tissues
2 : of or relating to the carnivores

Other Words from carnivorous

carnivorously adverb
carnivorousness noun


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