chu·​pa·​cab·​ra ˌchü-pə-ˈkä-brə How to pronounce chupacabra (audio)
variants or Chupacabra
plural chupacabras or Chupacabras
: a grotesque creature that drinks the blood of livestock and is reported to exist in North and South America
In 2004 some Texans sent samples of what they were convinced was a chupacabra—a legendary hairless beast that drains the blood of its prey. Amanda Bower Davis, Time, 30 Jan. 2006
Some swear the creature is actually a vampire—resembling a large rat, but with horns and fangs … In any case, the Chupacabra … reportedly drains the blood of cows, sheep, and goats throughout the republic, leaving an unusually shaped wound. Diana Reiss-Koncar, Vibe, April 1997

Word History


borrowed from American Spanish chupacabra, chupacabras, from Spanish chupa, 3rd person singular present tense of chupar "to suck" (probably of imitative origin) + cabra "goat" (cabras, plural)

Note: Perhaps originally a calque on Latin caprimulgus, English goatsucker, and numerous other vernacular names for birds of the nightjar family. The corresponding Spanish name for the bird is not chupacabras, but rather chotacabras, in which chota is perhaps a now obsolete verb for "suck" (cf. choto "kid, suckling goat").

First Known Use

1995, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chupacabra was in 1995

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Cite this Entry

“Chupacabra.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

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