hi·​ber·​nac·​u·​lum | \ ˌhī-bər-ˈna-kyə-ləm How to pronounce hibernaculum (audio) \
plural hibernacula\ ˌhī-​bər-​ˈna-​kyə-​lə How to pronounce hibernaculum (audio) \

Definition of hibernaculum

: a shelter occupied during the winter by a dormant animal (such as an insect, snake, bat, or marmot)

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If you're afraid of snakes or bats, you probably won't enjoy thinking about a hibernaculum, where hundreds, even thousands, of these creatures might be passing the wintry months. Other creatures also use hibernacula, though many of these tend to be a bit inconspicuous. The word hibernaculum has been used for the burrow of a woodchuck, for instance, as well as for a cozy caterpillar cocoon attached to a wintry twig, and for the spot in which a frog has buried itself in the mud. Hibernacula are all around us and have been around for a long, long time, but we have only called them such since 1789. In case you are wondering, "hibernate" didn't come into being until the beginning of the 19th century. Both words come from Latin hibernare, meaning "to pass the winter."

Examples of hibernaculum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At one point, the cave served as a haven for turtles to wait out the winter, a type of burrow called a hibernaculum. Brendan Gibbons, San Antonio Express-News, 17 Dec. 2017 In the eastern U.S., bat wintering areas, called hibernacula, have seen white-nose syndrome losses ranging from 90 to 100 percent, usually peaking several years after the disease is first seen. John Myers, Twin Cities, 11 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hibernaculum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hibernaculum

1770, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hibernaculum

New Latin, from Latin, winter residence, from hibernare

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The first known use of hibernaculum was in 1770

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Cite this Entry

“Hibernaculum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hibernaculum. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on hibernaculum

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hibernaculum


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