nau·​ti·​lus | \ ˈnȯ-tə-ləs How to pronounce nautilus (audio) , ˈnä-\
plural nautiluses or nautili\ ˈnȯ-​tə-​ˌlī How to pronounce nautili (audio) , -​ˌlē , ˈnä-​ \

Definition of nautilus

1 : any of a genus (Nautilus) of cephalopod mollusks of the South Pacific and Indian oceans with a spiral chambered shell that is pearly on the inside

called also chambered nautilus

Illustration of nautilus

Illustration of nautilus

nautilus 1

Examples of nautilus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Architect Bruce Goff used acrylic for transparent handrails that curl through the nautilus-like interior. Mimi Zeiger,, "La Brea Tar Pits’ trippy new pavilion from Spain’s Selgascano could be L.A.’s next selfie magnet," 27 June 2019 The ever-fascinating Fibonacci spiral, for example, shows up in everything from sunflower seed arrangements to nautilus shells to pine cones. Maddie Burakoff, Smithsonian, "Decoding the Mathematical Secrets of Plants’ Stunning Leaf Patterns," 6 June 2019 Correction on March 11, 2015: An earlier version of this article asserted that the golden ratio is found in nautilus shells, which is a common misperception. Quanta Magazine, "Strange Stars Pulse to the Golden Mean," 10 Mar. 2015 Built in 1952, this three-bedroom nautilus of a home, designed by architecture icon Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, is one of a handful of rounded designs that foreshadows the contours of the Guggenheim Museum. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rethinking the modern house museum," 12 Oct. 2018 Its spiral shape was inspired by the nautilus, the self-replicating living fossil. Washington Post, "Monument honoring Virginia native tribes awaits ceremony," 6 Mar. 2018 In the ocean’s depths where oxygen gets thin, the nautilus seems to be putting itself at risk by expending so much effort on movement. New York Times, "The Chambered Nautilus Is the Ocean’s Most Efficient Jet Engine," 23 Feb. 2018 The nautilus has not populated the earth as extensively as the ammonite, which broke into thousands of species, Famoso said. Kyle Spurr, The Christian Science Monitor, "Girl finds 65 million year old fossil in Oregon field," 19 Mar. 2018 Adding weight to this theory is evidence that nautiluses, a closely related shelled cephalopod known to be less intelligent, don’t possess the same editing capabilities. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, "Octopuses Can Stray From Their DNA," 24 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nautilus.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of nautilus

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nautilus

New Latin, from Latin, paper nautilus, from Greek nautilos, literally, sailor, from naus ship

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nautilus

Dictionary Entries near nautilus








Statistics for nautilus

Last Updated

1 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nautilus

The first known use of nautilus was in 1601

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on nautilus

Spanish Central: Translation of nautilus

Nglish: Translation of nautilus for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about nautilus

Comments on nautilus

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!