car·​niv·​o·​rous | \kär-ˈni-v(ə-)rəs \

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

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Other Words from carnivorous

carnivorously adverb
carnivorousness noun
carnivory \kär-​ˈni-​və-​rē \ 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

For the carnivorous, visit the strip’s original cool kid, Slow’s BBQ, which marked Corktown’s rise in 2005. Leslie Pariseau, Condé Nast Traveler, "3 Days in Detroit," 3 Oct. 2018 Fortunately, things are starting to look up for the carnivorous critters. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Endangered Eastern Quolls Are Born on Mainland Australia for the First Time in 50 Years," 10 July 2018 The creatures have been identified as Velella velella, a bluish, carnivorous animal related to jellyfish. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "One of the world's top beaches is a 'blue carpet of slime' after creatures wash ashore," 2 May 2018 Fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac, now comes in dozens of pet-friendly flavors, including peanut butter, apple and molasses, double grape, double liver, double beef, double fish, and — for the especially carnivorous depressive — triple fish. David Scharfenberg,, "Did humans drive this polar bear insane?," 13 July 2018 Using a lab setting and tiny, carnivorous Linyphiid spiders known as Erigone, the scientists were able to create uniform electric fields and observe the spiders abilities without any unexpected wind or environmental factors getting in the way. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Spiders Can Harness Electric Fields to Fly," 5 July 2018 What if his teeth weren’t perfectly straight and even, and looked slightly more carnivorous? Ciara Wardlow, The Hollywood Reporter, "Where 'Avengers' Should Have Embraced the Uncanny," 28 Apr. 2018 The grounds of the Old U.S. Mint now hold Louisiana irises, carnivorous pitcher plants, pickerel weed, spider lily, aquatic milkweed, swamp goldenrod and swamp Sunflowers, all in a large sugar kettle. Kendra Parks,, "Master gardeners celebrate the tricentennial and bring native plants back to New Orleans," 24 May 2018 For lighter fare, tuna and salmon can make a great burger, and a black bean base can take things into a vegetarian direction that might even challenge carnivorous bias. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, "5 alternative burger recipes that go beyond the beef," 21 May 2018

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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Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for carnivorous

The first known use of carnivorous was in 1592

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More Definitions for carnivorous


car·​niv·​o·​rous | \kär-ˈni-və-rəs \

Kids Definition of carnivorous

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


car·​niv·​o·​rous | \kär-ˈniv-(ə-)rəs \

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

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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