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

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 Still, close inspection reveals glimpses of personality in the otherwise dreary tableaus—a playful cheetah print here, a holiday wreath there. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, 8 Apr. 2022 For their outing, Kruger wore a cheetah print one-piece and a bucket hat while her daughter sported a pink suit. Georgia Slater,, 24 Mar. 2022 Josephine Baker went one step further, accessorizing herself with a pet cheetah named Chiquita. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 Cecilia Swedish couldn't conceal her giddiness beneath her sunglasses and cheetah-print mask. Kayla Dwyer, The Indianapolis Star, 8 Mar. 2022 Later, she was spotted in a monochrome black look, including a wrap coat and heeled knee-high boots, all topped off with a fluffy cheetah-print cap. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 Feb. 2022 In the heartwarming shot, Eve sits up in bed while the newborn — who wears an adorable cheetah onesie — rests on her chest. Georgia Slater,, 20 Apr. 2022 As delicious as a flaky croissant, the 90-room Hotel Motto is wedged into a 17th-century building and done up like an ode to Art Deco Paris, with a showpiece central staircase and a bellhop-and-cheetah mural in the lobby. Christian L. Wright, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 In fenced preserves, a male cheetah looking to explore and find females is likely to hit an electric fence and turn around, Tamar Kendon, another wildlife biologist with the Cabela Family Foundation, told ABC News. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 29 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of cheetah

1563, 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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The first known use of cheetah was in 1563

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cheetah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cheetah


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

More from Merriam-Webster on cheetah

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


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