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 The coyote approached and bit people without warning. Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, "Coyote that attacked five people in East Bay is trapped, killed after extensive search," 12 Mar. 2021 The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Moraga coyote’s reign of terror has finally come to an end. Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY, "In California: State reaches vaccine goal, reopenings on the way," 12 Mar. 2021 Authorities in Contra Costa County have captured and killed the coyote responsible for attacking and injuring five people in the Moraga area since last summer, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday morning. Michael Williams, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coyote responsible for multiple attacks in Contra Costa County captured, killed," 12 Mar. 2021 The incident and another recent coyote/human confrontation happened in the area of School Street and Joanne Drive in East Hartford. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Aggressive coyote reportedly chased man walking his dog, second incident in the area," 10 Mar. 2021 The Ohio Department of Wildlife says coyote mating season goes through the end of March. Joanna Bouras, The Enquirer, "Coyotes attack family’s Husky dog in Colerain Township," 24 Mar. 2021 His own dog, a coyote-pit bull mix, will be part of the ceremony. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Canine-centered wedding might go to the dogs," 21 Mar. 2021 His own dog, a coyote-pit bull mix, will be part of the ceremony. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Mother of small child worries wedding ceremony has gone to the dogs," 21 Mar. 2021 Ingrid Tomás, Marvin’s sister, said finding a coyote isn't difficult. Karol Suarez, USA TODAY, "He fled Guatemala looking for a better life. But he and 18 others were killed en route to the US.," 2 Mar. 2021

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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coyote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 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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