man·​a·​tee | \ ˈma-nə-ˌtē How to pronounce manatee (audio) \

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 More than a third of the world’s animal species live there including three-toed sloths, Amazon River dolphins, Amazonian manatees, anacondas, piranhas, and much more. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "5 Trips Every Black Woman Should Take For Adventure This Year," 6 Jan. 2020 Northern sea otters—along with polar bears, Pacific walruses, manatees, and dugongs—are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Michael R. Shea, Field & Stream, "Are Sea Otters the Next Wolves?," 11 Dec. 2019 The traditional manatee season opened Friday and lasts through March 31. Lois K. Solomon,, "Manatees are back! Boaters, be on the lookout," 15 Nov. 2019 Red tide killed thousands of tons of marine life including sea turtles, manatees and dolphins last year. NBC News, "Red tide returns in Florida leaving businesses worried about another economic hit," 18 Nov. 2019 The 15-month bloom caused respiratory irritation in people and killed sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and fish. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Scientists: Red tide is back in Florida’s southwest coast," 5 Oct. 2019 Last year, boats killed 119 manatees, tying the record. David Fleshler,, "Manatees pour into Broward County as weather cools," 26 Nov. 2019 Pippen is well and healthy, said Winton Ray, curator of invertebrates and manatees. Terry Demio,, "Zoo says goodbye to 2 manatees and welcomes another for rehab," 17 Oct. 2019 Dugongs are a species of marine mammal similar to a manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Busaba Sivasomboon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Thai marine biologist pleads for dugong conservation plan," 3 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for manatee

Time Traveler

The first known use of manatee was in 1555

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Manatee.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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How to pronounce manatee (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of manatee

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


man·​a·​tee | \ ˈma-nə-ˌtē How to pronounce manatee (audio) \

Kids Definition of manatee

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on manatee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with manatee

Spanish Central: Translation of manatee Encyclopedia article about manatee

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one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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