lim·​pet ˈlim-pət How to pronounce limpet (audio)
: a marine gastropod mollusk (especially families Acmaeidae and Patellidae) that has a low conical shell broadly open beneath, browses over rocks or timbers in the littoral area, and clings very tightly when disturbed
: one that clings tenaciously to someone or something
: an explosive device designed to cling magnetically to a metallic surface (such as the hull of a ship)

Illustration of limpet

Illustration of limpet
  • limpet 1

Examples of limpet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Like everything else that was bigger than a sand grain inside the coffin, the limpets were doomed to be subjected that evening, in the now cheerful atmosphere of the Atlantis II’s main lab, to what deep-sea biologists call a sorting frenzy. Robert Kunzig, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Some of the limpets made a desperate (albeit nearly imperceptibly slow) break for freedom up the sides of the coffin. Robert Kunzig, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Along with the brown crab remains, researchers found remnants of the various shellfish Neanderthals ate, including limpets, mussels and clams. Mac Stone, Discover Magazine, 20 Feb. 2023 The mussels, limpets and sea snails live on the rocks in the treacherous intertidal zone, where an incoming swell could easily knock over a hapless collector. Curtis W. Marean, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2016 The whale had been dead for years, but its remains had become a thriving community on the seafloor, feeding clams, mussels, limpets and snails. Popsci Staff, Popular Science, 10 May 2023 By 110,000 years ago the menu had expanded to include species such as limpets and sand mussels. Curtis W. Marean, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2016 This was no Eden of white sand and balmy lagoons teeming with fruit and protein, but its existential opposite: wind, rain, fog, near-freezing temperatures, tangles of bent and twisted trees, and almost nothing to harvest or hunt, save the occasional bird or limpet. Carl Hoffman, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2023 The sub and its sampling gear are cleaned between each dive, but this new limpet discovery suggests a mistake happened somewhere down the line. Sarah Zhang, Discover Magazine, 25 May 2012

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

Word History


Middle English lempet, from Old English lempedu, from Medieval Latin lampreda lamprey

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of limpet was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near limpet

Cite this Entry

“Limpet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


lim·​pet ˈlim-pət How to pronounce limpet (audio)
: a marine mollusk that has a low cone-shaped shell, moves over rocks or timbers feeding on food found there, and clings very tightly when disturbed

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