cot·​ton·​tail | \ ˈkä-tᵊn-ˌtāl How to pronounce cottontail (audio) \

Definition of cottontail

: any of several rather small North American rabbits (genus Sylvilagus) sandy to grayish brown in color with a white-tufted underside of the tail

Examples of cottontail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After each fresh snowfall both gray and red squirrels, cottontail rabbits, tunneling shrews, and others have their tracks and trails all recorded on the white blanket. Jim Gilbert, Star Tribune, "February is a generous month in the natural world," 4 Feb. 2021 Game cameras in the park already have documented cottontail rabbits, armadillos, axis deer (nonnatives brought in by ranchers), opossums — even a bobcat. Bruce Selcraig,, "As his namesake park’s land bridge becomes reality, former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger looks back," 2 Jan. 2021 Later that month, the state’s first cases in wild rabbits were detected in a black-tailed jackrabbit in Lubbock County and cottontail in Hudspeth County. Matt Wyatt,, "Hunters’ help is sought in rabbit virus outbreak," 10 Dec. 2020 There were whitetail deer, a few cottontail rabbits, pheasants, a few winter-over songbirds, and fox and mink tracks. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Given a rifle and a chance to be responsible, kids may learn a lot more than just shooting," 14 Nov. 2020 Overall outlook: Dylan Ferreira, whitetail deer and New England cottontail project leader with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, says the state’s deer harvest has increased the past three years. Brian Lovett, Outdoor Life, "The 2020 Deer Hunting Season Forecast," 12 Aug. 2020 An Eastern cottontail rabbit was spotted in Central Park. New York Times, "Coronavirus in N.Y.C.: Latest Updates," 28 May 2020 In winter, sharptail grouse descend on streamside willows to tuck out of the wind alongside twitchy prairie cottontails. Andrew Mckean, Outdoor Life, "Willow Creek: An Obscure Stream Shapes Life, Death, and Landscape," 16 Apr. 2020 The decline isn't due to a change in the cottontail population. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Rabbit pursuit a return to hunting roots," 15 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cottontail.' 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 cottontail

1835, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for cottontail

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The first known use of cottontail was in 1835

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Statistics for cottontail

Last Updated

13 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cottontail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for cottontail



English Language Learners Definition of cottontail

: a small rabbit with a white tail


cot·​ton·​tail | \ ˈkä-tᵊn-ˌtāl How to pronounce cottontail (audio) \

Kids Definition of cottontail

: a small rabbit with a white tail

More from Merriam-Webster on cottontail

Nglish: Translation of cottontail for Spanish Speakers

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