le·​mur | \ ˈlē-mər \

Definition of lemur

: any of various arboreal diurnal or nocturnal, chiefly arboreal primates (superfamily Lemuroidea) of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands that usually have a longish muzzle, large eyes, very soft woolly fur, and a long furry tail and that feed on fruit and plant parts (such as leaves, flowers, and seeds) and sometimes insects and small animals

Note: Unlike most other primates, lemurs have a well-developed sense of smell. Physical and genetic characteristics indicate that all lemurs descended from a common prosimian ancestor that arrived in Madagascar approximately 55 to 60 million years ago.

Though matriarchy is rare in primates, female dominance is the norm for most lemur species.— Patricia Edmonds As a consequence of these activities and others, such as illicit hunting, most of the larger extant lemurs of Madagascar have very restricted ranges,— David A. Burney and Ross D. E. MacPhee … chimpanzees and sifakas, a species of lemur from Madagascar, are more active and show less stereotypical behavior when shifted from indoor to outdoor enclosures.— Jeffrey P. Cohn

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Illustration of lemur

Examples of lemur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Most smaller animals, including skunks, lemurs, and raccoons, simply require a state permit. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "TLC's "Our Wild Life" Draws Mixed Reactions From Viewers," 25 May 2018 More distant relatives like monkeys and lemurs are quite brainy, too. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The evolutionary mystery of gigantic human brains," 23 Aug. 2018 The forests adjacent to Ankarana are filled with lemurs, lizards, snakes and birds. Tom Downey, WSJ, "Exploring Madagascar Is Now Easier Than Ever," 18 July 2018 The study is significant because previous research on lemur bones and other artifacts indicated that humans first arrived in Madagascar 2,400 to 4,000 years ago. James Rogers, Fox News, "Elephant bird mystery solved? Discovery may explain demise of world's largest-ever birds," 13 Sep. 2018 There are enough adventures to fill multiple lifetimes: spelunking through caves, diving in coral canyons, lemur sighting in the forests. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Incredible Journeys," 26 July 2018 The primary threat to lemurs here is deforestation and environmental destruction, not poaching. Tom Downey, WSJ, "Exploring Madagascar Is Now Easier Than Ever," 18 July 2018 The animals included a lemur, macaws, an African fennec fox and the tiger, both WFOR and WPLG reported. Natalie Dreier, ajc, "Jungle-themed prom included real, caged tiger," 14 May 2018 Easily navigable for visitors of all ages, the zoo’s attractions, in spacious surroundings, include lions, kangaroos, lemurs, river otters, sloth bears, and the zoo’s signature red pandas. Loren King, BostonGlobe.com, "Attleboro not only rich with history but also with museums," 8 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lemur.' 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 lemur

1795, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lemur

New Latin, from Latin lemures, plural, ghosts

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Dictionary Entries near lemur


Le Moyne






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Last Updated

23 Jan 2019

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The first known use of lemur was in 1795

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English Language Learners Definition of lemur

: an animal that is related to monkeys and that lives in trees mostly in Madagascar

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lemur

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