coy·ote | \kī-ˈō-tē, chiefly Western ˈkī-ˌōt \
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

Dog: Not to be confused with a coyote—the track is more oblong with less prominent claws and a smaller hind footprint. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "15 Things My Father Taught Me," 17 June 2016 The lab compared the animal’s DNA with thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs. Zoe Szathmary, Fox News, "Mysterious wolf-like creature killed in Montana ID'd through DNA test," 18 June 2018 Swampscott police are urging residents to take caution after a local teen was bitten by a coyote Saturday night in the woods between Burpee Road and the upper Jackson Field. Debora Almeida,, "Swampscott police urge caution after a teen was bitten by a coyote," 10 June 2018 That included the use of snares, nets, and traps, hunting wolves or coyotes during their denning season, baiting bears, and using aircraft to hunt bears. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Federal judge rejects predator-control lawsuit against Interior Department," 8 June 2018 The puppy appeared to be a maltipoo, the same breed as Simpson’s beloved dog Daisy, who was nabbed by a wild coyote in 2009 and never found. Mariah Haas,, "Jessica Simpson's Clan Gets an Adorable New Member: 'Welcome to Our Family Dixie!'," 14 May 2018 The coyote was initially in stable, very serious condition. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Coyote slowly recovering one week after container removed from its head," 14 Feb. 2018 Important program being abused by the coyotes, the human smugglers, and the lawyers advising people, oh, if you get stopped, just ask for political asylum. Fox News, "Rep. Goodlatte on what he wants to ask Peter Strzok, next steps for immigration," 24 June 2018 As the second B-2 came in, the control tower canceled its landing clearance because of a coyote on the runway. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 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.

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First Known Use of coyote

1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for coyote

Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl coyōtl

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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The first known use of coyote was in 1759

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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, 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

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Comments on coyote

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a state of commotion or excitement

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