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

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Other Words from carnivorous

carnivorously adverb
carnivorousness noun
carnivory \ kär-​ˈni-​və-​rē How to pronounce carnivory (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 This time-consuming analysis of teeth replacement has only occurred in a few of the hundreds of carnivorous dinosaurs that were once spread across the globe. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Meet the bone-crunching dinosaur that replaced its teeth every two months, study says," 27 Nov. 2019 This three-bedroom, 3,700-square-foot townhouse is anything from ordinary, fully embellished with distinct props fans would recognize from the series, from Wednesday’s beheaded doll to Morticia’s carnivorous plants. Nashia Baker, House Beautiful, "You Can Spend the Night in the Addams Family Mansion This Halloween," 10 Oct. 2019 At the park’s eastern reach, Mount Baldy still shifted and carnivorous plants kept up their diet of tiny insects at Pinhook Bog. Morgan Greene,, "Indiana Dunes’ first summer as a national park brings ‘crush of visitors,’ breaking records: ‘It’s always been spectacular, but the name seems to resonate’," 17 Sep. 2019 The carnivorous dinosaur had something akin to an air conditioner in its skull, according to a new study published Wednesday in the The Anatomical Record. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Tyrannosaurus rex had a built-in air conditioner, study says," 5 Sep. 2019 Cyrodrakon was carnivorous, feasting on a diet of mammals, lizards and baby dinosaurs. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "'Frozen dragon of the north wind' was one of the largest animals to ever fly," 10 Sep. 2019 In another, a man walks down the street dangling a large piece of pork from a hook, the carnivorous equivalent of bragging about his Lamborghini. Washington Post, "China loves its pork but prices are rising and that could be a problem," 5 Sep. 2019 Manjoo speculates that people react this way to vegans because their convictions challenge us, highlighting the unbearable tension between our sentimentality about certain animals and our carnivorous desire to consume them. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Is the Future Vegan?," 30 Aug. 2019 That's where the carnivorous cobra lily comes in—and their self defense mechanism could also save the rest of the plants in your garden. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Carnivorous Cobra Lilies Will Actually Eat Pests For You—And You Can Buy Them on Amazon," 19 July 2019

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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Statistics for carnivorous

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Carnivorous.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on carnivorous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with carnivorous

Spanish Central: Translation of carnivorous

Nglish: Translation of carnivorous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of carnivorous for Arabic Speakers

Comments on carnivorous

What made you want to look up carnivorous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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