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

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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

The stereotypical tattooed, carnivorous, proudly in-your-face, and often (but not always) male chef was modeled directly in his image. Devra First,, "Remembering Anthony Bourdain, the ‘bad-boy chef’ who was so much more," 8 June 2018 My carnivorous husband behaves the same way when presented with salad. Jennifer Traig, WSJ, "The Making of the Picky Eater," 11 Jan. 2019 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

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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Statistics for carnivorous

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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).


a strong desire or propensity

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