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

Much like Spencer's infamous cheetah slip skirt, her namesake dress went viral shortly after it was released. Tara Gonzalez, Glamour, "We Found the Best Spring Dress Trend—And It's Under $150," 9 Apr. 2019 Lions, giraffes, hippopotamus, and impalas are also fairly common, while rhinoceros and cheetahs are decidedly more rare to spot. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Safari in Kenya: A Beginner's Guide," 14 Nov. 2018 But wait—isn't that a cheetah curled up on the sofa? Douglas Brenner, House Beautiful, "Suzanne Kasler on Decorating a Home in Kenya," 1 Aug. 2012 The software not only correctly identified the leopard, its other top guesses—jaguar, cheetah, snow leopard, and Egyptian cat—were all similar-looking cats. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "How computers got shockingly good at recognizing images," 18 Dec. 2018 Wilderness Safaris’ Linkwasha is the epitome of safari luxury, and it’s in the best game area of the park: warring lion prides, packs of wild dogs, cheetahs, and herds of elephant and buffalo everywhere. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 Dolce & Gabbana experimented with everything from zebra to tiger, while newcomer Miaou introduced sportier options in cheetah and snake. Alice Bell, Vogue, "Into the Wild! 5 Chic Ways to Pull Off Head-to-Toe Animal Print," 31 May 2018 In March, a man a man traveling on an African safari at Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park had a close encounter with a cheetah after the animal jumped into his open car. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Cheetahs chase tourists at Dutch safari park after family gets out of car to snap pictures," 11 May 2018 In April, Wilderness Travel will host a four-day conservation symposium, with lectures by leaders in the field and excursions (like cheetah tracking), followed by a safari ( Christian L. Wright, WSJ, "The 10 Most Intriguing Travel Destinations for 2019," 23 Oct. 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







Statistics for cheetah

Last Updated

27 Apr 2019

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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 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

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