chee·​tah | \ ˈchē-tə How to pronounce cheetah (audio) \
plural cheetahs also cheetah

Definition of cheetah

: a long-legged, swift-moving cat (Acinonyx jubatus) about the size of a small leopard with a yellowish to tan coat covered with numerous round to oval black spots and blunt claws that only partially retract and having a current range restricted to Africa and isolated parts of Iran

Illustration of cheetah

Illustration of cheetah

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Did You Know?

A cheetah is a slender, long-legged cat that lives on the plains of Africa and in the Middle East, where it is threatened with extinction. It is the fastest land animal in the world over short distances and can reach a speed of 60 mph (100 kph). Its claws differ from those of other cats in being only partly retractable and lacking protective sheaths. Cheetahs purr rather than roar. Cheetahs grow to about 55 in. (140 cm) long, excluding the 29-31-in. (75-80-cm) tail, and weigh 110-130 lbs. (50-60 kg). Their coarse fur is sandy yellow above, white below, and covered with small black spots; a black streak runs down the face from the corner of each eye.

Examples of cheetah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Below the staircase lives a home bar, speckled like a cheetah, with blue underlights. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Dr. Phil's Home Is Decorated With Guns, Evil Teddy Bears, Curse Words, and More," 3 Jan. 2020 The sole-surviving baby cheetah of her mother’s litter has been paired with a rescue puppy at the Cincinnati Zoo, and video showed the playmates becoming fast friends. Fox News, "Baby cheetah, puppy play together in adorable video from Cincinnati Zoo," 13 Oct. 2019 Crisp enough to hold a point, spotted like a cheetah with char, but not overdone. Fortune, "Philadelphia’s Pizzeria Beddia Wants to Be More Than Just the ‘Best Pizza in America’," 22 Sep. 2019 Sometimes, Marinelli Madness features a cheetah chasing a gazelle to illustrate the speed a pass rush demands. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "How Rod Marinelli uses 'madness' to ‘demand greatness’ from Dallas Cowboys D," 8 Aug. 2019 In addition to the Asiatic cheetah, Iran is home to rare species such as Persian leopards and Baluchistan bears. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Iranian environmentalists sentenced to prison for ‘collaborating’ with U.S.," 20 Nov. 2019 In holding areas in a courtyard out back, a baboon with a cast on its leg, a cheetah wounded in a trap, and Pienika’s two lion cubs are recuperating. Nichole Sobecki, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Inside a controversial South African lion farm," 21 Nov. 2019 Last year, Asghari shared a steamy picture of himself posing topless as Spears — in a blue, cheetah-print bikini — kissed him on the cheek ahead of her 37th birthday. Darlene Aderoju,, "Britney Spears' Boyfriend Sam Asghari Celebrates Her 38th Birthday with Sweet Post: 'My Princess'," 2 Dec. 2019 Harsh, meanwhile, went all out on her drag, with a shimmering gold dress, a massive blonde wig and some cheetah-print shoes. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "'Highway Unicorn': See Lady Gaga's Glittery Halloween Costume," 1 Nov. 2019

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

1610, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cheetah

Hindi cītā & Urdu chītā leopard, from Sanskrit citraka, from citra bright, variegated; akin to Old High German heitar bright — more at -hood

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Time Traveler for cheetah

Time Traveler

The first known use of cheetah was in 1610

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Statistics for cheetah

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cheetah.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for cheetah


How to pronounce cheetah (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cheetah

: a large wild cat that lives in Asia and Africa and that can run very fast


chee·​tah | \ ˈchē-tə How to pronounce cheetah (audio) \

Kids Definition of cheetah

: a long-legged spotted African and formerly Asian animal of the cat family that is the fastest animal on land

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More from Merriam-Webster on cheetah

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cheetah

Spanish Central: Translation of cheetah

Nglish: Translation of cheetah for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cheetah

Comments on cheetah

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