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

The Huntersville Police Department later tracked and killed the coyote. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "6-year-old was playing in her yard when a rabid fox locked onto her leg," 6 July 2018 And Please, Don’t Feed the Bears Or the sea gulls or the coyotes or any animal, really, other than your pets. New York Times, "5 Simple Tips to Handle a Wild Animal Encounter on Vacation," 5 July 2018 Runners cross paths with coyotes, turkeys, and foxes, who yield, and bad drivers who don’t. Stan Grossfeld,, "In a grueling relay, runners carry the burden on behalf of veterans," 10 May 2018 Red wolves readily breed with the coyotes that have poured into their former range. Robbie George, National Geographic, "Rule to Allow Hunting Could Doom Rare Red Wolves," 29 June 2018 The coyotes had a network, and the ones responsible for crossing us didn’t come for us. Maria E. Andreu, Teen Vogue, "I Could Have Been Separated From My Mother While Crossing the Border Between the United States and Mexico," 18 June 2018 Knox has no doubt the baby swans, called cygnets, were taken by humans rather than killed by natural predators such as coyotes. Karen Berkowitz,, "Apparent theft of day-old baby swans angers Highland Park neighbors," 5 June 2018 There's a small selection of mezcals from different states and various varietals like tobalá, coyote, tobasiche, madre cuishe y tepextate. Scarlett Lindeman, Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Bars in Mexico City," 27 Feb. 2018 That may explain the recent burst of coyote stories online. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Why coyote sightings are so common in Milwaukee, and what to do if you see one," 18 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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Statistics for coyote

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for coyote

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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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

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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