meer·​kat ˈmir-ˌkat How to pronounce meerkat (audio)
: any of several African mongooses
especially : a burrowing highly social primarily insectivorous mammal (Suricata suricatta) of southern Africa that is chiefly grayish with faint black markings and lives in usually large colonies

Illustration of meerkat

Illustration of meerkat

Examples of meerkat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last week, the zoo announced the arrival of four baby meerkats, following a 27-year absence from the establishment. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 25 Sep. 2023 There are also signs posted near the meerkat exhibit alerting visitors about what happened to the five meerkats. Kate Perez, USA TODAY, 14 June 2023 The meerkat exhibit will sadly remain empty, as the deceased animals were the zoo's only meerkats. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 14 June 2023 Originally debuting on Animal Planet in 2019, two seasons of the show take viewers inside the day-to-day lives of koalas, cheetah cubs, lions, pandas, a white rhino, hippos, meerkats and more. Abby Hamblin, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Sep. 2023 The dye was used on the meerkats June 1, and one of them was found dead about 30 minutes later, officials said. Nick Lichtenberg, Fortune, 14 June 2023 The zoo has suspended use of the dye until officials find out what happened to the meerkats. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, 14 June 2023 Problems for the zoo began on June 1, when the meerkat keepers noticed the meerkats were not acting normally. Kate Perez, USA TODAY, 14 June 2023 Firefighters and zoo staff were able to rescue nine of the animals, but a meerkat receiving care at the zoo’s animal hospital died, zoo officials said. Caroll Alvarado, CNN, 5 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'meerkat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Afrikaans, from Dutch, a kind of monkey, from Middle Dutch meercatte monkey, from meer sea + catte cat

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of meerkat was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near meerkat

Cite this Entry

“Meerkat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


meer·​kat ˈmir-ˌkat How to pronounce meerkat (audio)
: a burrowing mammal of southern Africa that feeds chiefly on insects, is grayish with faint black markings, and lives in usually large colonies

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