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

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 Before the mouse, there was a coyote Chuck E. Cheese, though, wasn’t always meant to be a mouse. Bychris Morris, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 Adult deer can be killed by coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, and wolves. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 31 Aug. 2023 The scientists noticed that although the coyote fossils dated anywhere from 16,000 to 10,000 years ago, every other species abruptly disappeared sometime between 14,000 and 13,000 years ago, with the camels and sloths seemingly blinking out a few hundred years before the predators. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 17 Aug. 2023 Sometimes river otters, bears, and coyotes attempt to attack adult snappers. Paul Richards, Field & Stream, 1 Nov. 2023 Although rats receive most of the attention, New York City is crawling with all kinds of creatures — raccoons, skunks, opossums, deer and even the occasional coyote — that are not always visible to people. Emily Anthes Andres Kudacki, New York Times, 3 Oct. 2023 Scientific studies have concluded that mass killing of coyotes does not reduce coyote-livestock conflicts. Gwozniac, oregonlive, 19 Sep. 2023 There are also wild horse herds, elk, coyote, and deer along the road, so keep an eye out — especially at night. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 11 Sep. 2023 The incident comes one month after an Iowa man died after being shot while hunting coyotes with friends. CBS News, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coyote.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl coyōtl

First Known Use

1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of coyote was in 1759

Dictionary Entries Near coyote

Cite this Entry

“Coyote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural coyotes or coyote
: a tannish gray to reddish gray North American mammal related to but smaller than the wolf
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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