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 1,101 manatee deaths in 2021 was the most in any year since records began in 1974. Orlando Sentinel, 10 May 2022 Both are well above the five-year average of 287 manatee deaths in the time period. Curt Anderson,, 7 Apr. 2022 All in all, Brady and her team spent about seven years recording manatee vocalizations. Ashleigh Papp, Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2022 Ron Mezich, who oversees the manatee provisioning effort for the Florida commission, said the feeding program will continue for another week or so until the manatees move away from the winter, warm-water foraging spots. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2022 The feared eruption of Florida manatee deaths from cold and starvation became reality during the last week of January when 46 of the animals were found along on the state’s east coast, with 13 of those on a single day, Friday, in Brevard County. Kevin Spear,, 2 Feb. 2022 And while Miller has seen scores of successful rescues and releases over the past few years, manatee populations are facing a cataclysmic crisis that was first recognized in 2021—an unusual mortality event, or UME. Jared Ranahan, Forbes, 30 Jan. 2022 Last year, 1,100 manatees died from starvation and about 420 manatee deaths have been confirmed this year, as of March 11, according to the AP. Stephanie Wenger,, 24 Mar. 2022 Patrick Rose vividly remembers his first underwater encounter with a manatee. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of manatee was in 1555

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manatee grass

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Manatee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for manatee


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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