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 The manatee was discovered on January 10 in Florida's Homosassa River with the President's name scraped on its back, according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "Actor Dave Bautista offers $20,000 in case of manatee scraped with word 'TRUMP'," 16 Jan. 2021 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission began an investigation after the manatee with President Trump’s name etched into its back was discovered in the headwaters of the Homosassa River. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "'TRUMP' carved into manatee’s back," 11 Jan. 2021 The manatee was found swimming on Sunday in the Blue Hole headwaters in North Florida, The Citrus County Chronicle first reported. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "US Fish and Wildlife opens investigation after Florida manatee found mutilated with 'Trump' carved into its back," 11 Jan. 2021 One girl’s missionary is another girl’s anxious manatee. Anna Pulley,, "Ask Anna: Is it normal to experience pain during intercourse?," 18 Dec. 2020 Watercraft injuries remain the leading cause of manatee mortality. Fox 35 News Staff, FOX 35 Orlando, "Manatee with bike tire wrapped around torso reappears at Blue Spring State Park tire-free," 11 Dec. 2020 But not all scientists were ready to accept the idea that Spinosaurus, unlike any other dinosaur, lived like a manatee. National Geographic, "Episode 5: The Strange Tail of Spinosaurus," 24 Nov. 2020 In one case, a manatee died from eating a large amount of plastic shopping bags. Tristan Baurick,, "Gulf's plastic trash killing large numbers of endangered sea turtles, manatees, study finds," 19 Nov. 2020 Learn what manatee observers do and complete some at-home activities, like watching the sea turtle art lesson video or downloading the smalltooth sawfish facts and coloring sheet at Mary Lou Cruz,, "Virtual community, entertainment events starting Nov. 8," 6 Nov. 2020

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

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The first known use of manatee was in 1555

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Statistics for manatee

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Manatee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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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 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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