chee·​tah | \ˈchē-tə \
plural cheetahs also cheetah

Definition of cheetah 

: a long-legged spotted swift-moving African and formerly Asian cat (Acinonyx jubatus) about the size of a small leopard that has blunt nonretractile claws

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

Often overlooked, zebra is a great alternative to leopard and cheetah prints and is perfect for those who prefer to dress in subtle shades of black and white. Alice Bell, Vogue, "Into the Wild! 5 Chic Ways to Pull Off Head-to-Toe Animal Print," 31 May 2018 In contrast, some participants didn’t know other animals had made their way onto the list in recent years: Some species of giraffe, hummingbird, salmon, and cheetah are currently listed as endangered. National Geographic, "Is This Clothing, Food, or an Endangered Species? Take Our Quiz.," 18 May 2018 This funky, lightweight low-rider from Swiss upstart On is part cheetah, part gym rat. Outside Online, "The Best Road Running Shoes of 2018," 15 May 2018 In their wake come the predators: lion, cheetah, circling vultures, and at the river crossings, a frothing stew of crocodiles, who pick off the exhausted ones. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Ultimate Safari: Seeing the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania," 25 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, Kylie Jenner sported a slinky cheetah print dress atop the rolling hills of what was presumably Calabasas. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "The 12 Best Fashion Instagrams of the Week: Kylie Jenner Goes Into the Wild, Teyana Taylor Does London, and More," 9 June 2018 There is a cheetah gym facility where people get to experience running at 40 miles per hour! New York Times, "What’s It Like to Visit Wakanda? You Had Some (Great) Ideas," 3 Apr. 2018 And my girlfriend made me this dope jacket for my birthday with safety pins on it and a skull in the back with some crazy eyes and cheetah print lining on the inside. Jamie Lisanti,, "Fashionable 50," 10 July 2018 Schmitz’s taxidermy pieces include crocodiles, cheetahs and bears – all now extinct here. Shira Rubin, USA TODAY, "The Middle East's first natural history museum is designed like Noah's Ark," 29 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near cheetah

Cheese Week







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Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for cheetah

The first known use of cheetah was in 1610

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More Definitions for cheetah



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 \

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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