her·​biv·​o·​rous ˌ(h)ər-ˈbiv-rəs How to pronounce herbivorous (audio)
: feeding on plants
herbivory noun

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Many herbivorous animals, such as rabbits, deer, sheep, and cows, are noted for their gentle and passive ways. But such behavior is not universal among herbivores. Rhinoceroses and elephants, for instance, are capable of inflicting serious damage if threatened, and among dinosaurs, the herbivorous Diplodocus had a thick tail that could be used as a lethal weapon against attacking carnivores. Herbivorous humans are usually called vegetarians.

Examples of herbivorous in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Coffee plants surrounded by trees with Azteca nests have a high density of scale insects, an herbivorous coffee pest that reduces yield. Lesley Evans Ogden, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 Share [Findings] The tail of an unidentified herbivorous dinosaur in Alberta was found to contain a type of histiocytic tumor that primarily affects young children. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 After studying the artifacts of grizzly skulls and teeth, food resources in the region and human activity, researchers found that the bears derived less than 10% of their nutrition from other mammals and were therefore largely herbivorous for a period ahead of the first European arrival in 1542. Karen Garcia, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2024 The Tarbosaurus was a carnivore, preying on large herbivorous dinosaurs and possibly even scavenging when opportunities arose. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2023 Additionally, the structure of its skull and teeth suggests a diet that included large herbivorous dinosaurs, supporting its status as an apex predator. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2023 Fossils of this herbivorous dinosaur, reassessed by experts this March, indicate that the Jurassic dinosaur had a neck more than 45 feet long—similar to the neck lengths of the largest dinosaurs of all time. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Dec. 2023 The Features Of Dinosaurs That Eat Plants In addition to their teeth, the presence of a beak usually indicates that a dinosaur had a herbivorous diet. Sofia Quaglia, Discover Magazine, 24 May 2023 The Lystrosaurus was herbivorous, about the size of a pig, with small tusks and a kind of beak. Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


New Latin herbivorus, from Latin herba grass + -vorus -vorous

First Known Use

1661, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of herbivorous was in 1661

Dictionary Entries Near herbivorous

Cite this Entry

“Herbivorous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herbivorous. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


her·​biv·​o·​rous ˌ(h)ər-ˈbiv-ə-rəs How to pronounce herbivorous (audio)
: eating or living on plants

Medical Definition


her·​biv·​o·​rous ˌ(h)ər-ˈbiv-ə-rəs How to pronounce herbivorous (audio)
: feeding on plants
herbivorous mammals
: having a stout body and a long small intestine : endomorphic
herbivorously adverb

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