coy·​ote | \ kī-ˈō-tē How to pronounce coyote (audio) , chiefly Western ˈkī-ˌōt How to pronounce coyote (audio) \
plural coyotes or coyote

Definition of coyote

1 : a buff-gray to reddish-gray swift carnivorous mammal (Canis latrans) of North America that is closely related to but smaller than the wolf, has a narrow pointed muzzle and triangular ears, hunts singly or in small groups, and is known for its various distinctive vocalizations (such as barks, yips, and howls)

Note: The coyote is often considered a threat to livestock. Despite being hunted and trapped, the coyote has expanded its original range and is found in all states except Hawaii.

2 slang : one who smuggles immigrants into the U.S.

Illustration of coyote

Illustration of coyote

coyote 1

Examples of coyote in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Authorities are concerned about the aggressiveness of the coyotes, which are normally reclusive. Maria Carter, Country Living, "This Town Just Had Its Fourth Coyote Attack In a Single Month," 11 July 2015 Some of the themes completed or in progress depict wild animals such as coyotes and rabbits, cactus, mountains covered with rocks, and books. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Murals come a long way under Elaine Lyttleton's watch," 1 June 2018 Named for their ability to leap like kangaroos, the rats are key species in arid areas across western North America, dispersing seeds and feeding predators such as coyotes and foxes. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Supposedly extinct kangaroo rat resurfaces after 30 years," 30 Apr. 2018 Fuentes creates sculptures of armadillos, giraffes, cats, coyotes and other animals using simple hand tools and a piece of wood. Courant Community, "Community News For The East Hartford Edition," 17 Apr. 2018 His poems casually quote Lucretius or Marcus Aurelius while touching on wind and water, woods and bonfires, coyotes and storms. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Wild is the Wind' explores those things made all the more beautiful because they can’t last," 6 Apr. 2018 The viral, sometimes fatal, disease typically infects unvaccinated domestic dogs but can also infect foxes, coyotes and skunks. The Washington Post,, "'Zombie Raccoon' disease does not affect humans, says ODFW," 5 Apr. 2018 The viral, sometimes fatal, disease typically infects unvaccinated domestic dogs but can also infect foxes, coyotes and skunks. Greg Larose,, "Zombie raccoons, standing with teeth bared, are startling," 5 Apr. 2018 Moriarty believes the coyote, enticed by her cat, managed to get through her back door. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Oklahoma woman mistakes coyote for dog, awakes to wild animal in bedroom: 'He lunged at the door'," 12 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coyote.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of coyote

1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for coyote

Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl coyōtl

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about coyote

Statistics for coyote

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for coyote

The first known use of coyote was in 1759

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for coyote



English Language Learners Definition of coyote

: a small wild animal that is related to dogs and wolves and that lives in North America


coy·​ote | \ kī-ˈō-tē How to pronounce coyote (audio) , ˈkī-ˌōt\

Kids Definition of coyote

: a yellowish to reddish gray doglike animal chiefly of western North America that is closely related to but smaller than the wolf

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on coyote

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coyote

Spanish Central: Translation of coyote

Nglish: Translation of coyote for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coyote for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about coyote

Comments on coyote

What made you want to look up coyote? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!