man·​a·​tee | \ ˈma-nə-ˌtē \

Definition of manatee

: any of a genus (Trichechus of the family Trichechidae) of large, herbivorous, aquatic mammals that inhabit warm coastal and inland waters of the southeastern U.S., West Indies, northern South America, and West Africa and have a rounded body, a small head with a squarish snout, paddle-shaped flippers usually with vestigial nails, and a flattened, rounded tail used for propulsion

Note: Manatees are sirenians related to and resembling the dugong but differing most notably in the shape of the tail.

An aquatic relative of the elephant, manatees grow up to nine feet long and can weigh 1,000 pounds.— Felicity Barringer

Illustration of manatee

Illustration of manatee

Examples of manatee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Snorkel in the hopes of seeing a rare dugong, India’s version of a manatee, but stay content with the rays and turtles that are more likely. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "Why India’s Andaman Islands Could Be the New Maldives," 4 Jan. 2019 This year, only 79 manatees have died due to boat injuries. Tamara Lush, The Seattle Times, "In first 8 months of year, manatee death toll surpasses 2017," 20 Aug. 2018 This summer’s red tide has already caused the deaths of hundreds of sea turtles, as well as large fish like goliath grouper and even manatees. James Rogers, Fox News, "Red tide crisis: The science behind the toxic algae bloom on Florida's Gulf Coast," 15 Aug. 2018 In Florida, the culprit is a specific dinoflagellate known as Karenia brevis, or K. brevis, which produces 12 neurotoxins that can kill marine animals including fish, turtles, sea birds, manatees, and dolphins. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Are Red Tides and Why Are They Getting Worse?," 14 Aug. 2018 Paddle Boarding Intracoastal Adventures: Come out for a fun paddle along the mangroves to look for fish, turtles, and manatees, 9-11 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 19, weather permitting. Mary Lou Cruz,, "Boca Raton area events July 18-28," 13 July 2018 In 2017, state wildlife officials blamed red tide for a spike in manatee deaths. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "Waters off Florida Keys hit with rare red tide. It’s prime suspect in fish kills | Miami Herald," 1 Mar. 2018 While living in Key Largo, Greg volunteered a great deal of his time to dolphin and manatee rescue projects., "Gregory W. Singer," 25 Jan. 2018 BamBam is the 14th manatee that's been released back into the wild after rehabilitation at the Cincinnati Zoo. Carol Motsinger,, "This manatee lost his mother. He was sick and he was healed in Cincinnati. Now, he's home.," 8 Mar. 2018

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

1555, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for manatee

Spanish manatí, probably of Carib origin; akin to Antillean Carib manattoüi manatee

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Dictionary Entries near manatee





manatee grass



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Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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The first known use of manatee was in 1555

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English Language Learners Definition of manatee

: a large animal that lives in warm waters and eats plants


man·​a·​tee | \ ˈma-nə-ˌtē \

Kids Definition of manatee

: a mainly tropical water-dwelling mammal that eats plants and has a broad rounded tail

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with manatee

Spanish Central: Translation of manatee Encyclopedia article about manatee

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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