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

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 Monica Ross, a research scientist at Sea to Shore Alliance, has tagged and tracked manatees since the 1990s. Kevin Spear,, "Florida's high waters are boon for snail kites and manatees," 6 July 2018 Since then, she has been rescued and under care at SeaWorld Orlando, which has a team that rehabilitates sick and injured manatees, dolphins and other animals. Gabrielle Russon,, "Dolphin, bitten by shark, one step closer to being released," 14 May 2018 In southwest Florida over the past week, a months-long bloom of red tide has been blamed for respiratory irritations and dead fish, turtles and manatees. Jennifer Kay,, "Blue-green algae, red tide soil beaches, threaten Florida tourism," 10 July 2018 Yankeetown sits on the north bank of the Withlacoochee River, where manatees like to swim. Amy Green, miamiherald, "With Gov. Scott and legislature in denial, tiny town adapts on its own to climate change," 11 July 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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manatee grass



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Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

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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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Spanish Central: Translation of manatee Encyclopedia article about manatee

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What made you want to look up manatee? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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