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 Also featured in the collection is a 3-in-1 PVC square bag that has two small pouches inside, one a faux alligator brown and the other a cheetah print. Katie Intner, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sephora Just Launched Makeup Bags with Brother Vellies Designer Aurora James," 12 Feb. 2021 The book begins with the story of a trip to the zoo, during which Doyle and her family encounter a tamed cheetah named Tabitha. Ariel Levy, The New Yorker, "Glennon Doyle’s Honesty Gospel," 8 Feb. 2021 Martinez, who was last seen wearing a grey hoodie and orange and black cheetah print shorts, is 5 feet 3 inches and 120 pounds, with tattoos on her right and left forearms. Lucas Manfredi, Fox News, "18-year-old woman missing after family robbed and kidnapped at gunpoint," 18 Jan. 2021 Some say Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill is faster than a cheetah. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Browns vs. Chiefs preview: Why Cleveland matches up well with the Super Bowl champs," 11 Jan. 2021 There is a picture of Wilson in her early years at the zoo, dressed in an elegant skirt suit that showed off her tiny waist, her hair lightly curled, smiling broadly to charm her companion, a skeptical-looking cheetah. Reginald Dwayne Betts Kiese Makeba Laymon Carina Del Valle Schorske Dessa Irina Aleksander Sam Dolnick Mark Binelli Maggie Jones Rob Hoerburger Jamie Lauren Keiles Devin Gordon Jazmine Hughes Jenna Wortham Jade Chang Taffy Brodesser-akner Kaitlyn Greenidge Rowan Ricardo Phillips Michael Paterniti Wesley Morris Ismail Muhammad Anthony Giardina, New York Times, "Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year.," 23 Dec. 2020 There’s a chic geometric pattern with navy and gold triangles and a more classic cheetah print. Liv Birdsall, USA TODAY, "15 bestselling bands to buy for your Apple Watch," 26 Dec. 2020 This meant that in vitro fertilization, followed by the transfer of these embryos to a younger cheetah, could be possible. Nadine Daher, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a First, Cheetah Cubs Born Through Surrogacy at the Columbus Zoo," 24 Feb. 2020 Pronghorn evolved to outrun the now-extinct North American cheetah, dire wolf, and short-faced bear. Christine Peterson, Outdoor Life, "This Ultra-Runner Is on a Quest to Persistence-Hunt a Pronghorn," 23 Nov. 2020

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

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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Time Traveler for cheetah

Time Traveler

The first known use of cheetah was in 1563

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Statistics for cheetah

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cheetah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on cheetah

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

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