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 Whether solo or in groups, coyote yipping can be heard for miles. Jim Gilbert, Star Tribune, "Coyotes are a lot of things. Especially, adaptable.," 25 Feb. 2021 Sure, kids may run to scare them, as kids do, and a dog or coyote may nab a few goslings before the goose or gander gets riled up. Alan Clemons, Outdoor Life, "Can Hunting Be Used to Manage Urban Goose Populations? A New Radio-Collar Study Has Some Answers," 22 Feb. 2021 Moraga police warned residents to be prepared for future coyote encounters. Jessica Flores, San Francisco Chronicle, "Another child bitten by coyote in Moraga, police say," 16 Feb. 2021 The German artist and Fluxus associate Joseph Beuys once spent three days straight in a room with a wild coyote; when the creature, finally acclimated to his presence, allowed Beuys to touch it, the performance ended. Globe Staff,, "At the Addison, Yoko Ono invites you to look and please touch," 4 Feb. 2021 New coronavirus strain arrives in California, close coyote confrontations, and the Bay Area's biggest stories of 2020. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus updates from the Bay Area: Dec. 24-30," 1 Jan. 2021 Deter the coyote whenever it is spotted, and do not leave your pets out unattended and for long periods of times. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Online Black History Month Challenge inspires students through essay competition: Strong Points," 11 Feb. 2021 Photos and video provided by the Humane Society show more than two dozen coyote carcasses, some bloody, laid out near the woods. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "Animal welfare group blasts hunt that it says killed roughly 60 coyotes in Indiana," 10 Feb. 2021 Across the bay in the Moraga area, another coyote has assaulted three people in separate incidents since July. Anna Buchmann,, "Bay Briefing: Highly contagious coronavirus strain arrives in California," 31 Dec. 2020

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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Statistics for coyote

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coyote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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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

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