oc·​to·​pus | \ ˈäk-tə-pəs How to pronounce octopus (audio) , -ˌpu̇s \
plural octopuses or octopi\ ˈäk-​tə-​ˌpī How to pronounce octopus (audio) \

Definition of octopus

1 plural also octopodes\ äk-​​ˈtä-​​pə-​​ˌdēz How to pronounce octopus (audio) , -​​ˈtō-​ \ : any of a genus (Octopus) of cephalopod mollusks that have eight muscular arms equipped with two rows of suckers broadly : any octopod excepting the paper nautilus
2 : something that resembles an octopus especially in having many centrally directed branches an octopus of a corporation which lends, buys, produces, and sellsAtlantic

Illustration of octopus

Illustration of octopus

octopus 1

Examples of octopus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That’s Shuma Gorath/Gargantus, a one-eyed octopus-like demon. Chris Smith, BGR, 3 Jan. 2022 Inside, diners will find ten sculptures by Damien Hirst; an installation of 26 shimmering fish suspended from the ceiling, courtesy of the architect Frank Gehry; and DJs spinning under a giant octopus. New York Times, 16 Dec. 2021 The octopus has long been a source of human fascination. Katie Hunt, CNN, 25 Mar. 2021 In one example captured in 2016, a female octopus threw silt at a male who was attempting to mate with her. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Sep. 2021 As noted in my first column on this scheme, Susan Jordan of the California Coastal Protection Network was appalled that marine creatures including an octopus or two clung to the wine bottles in marketing photos. Steve Lopez Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2021 There’s even a mechanical octopus on wheels shooting flames from its eight tentacles, as well as lucha libre wrestling matches. Thomas Jones, USA TODAY, 22 Oct. 2021 The octopus was crisp and spicy with a touch of 'nduja, the Calabrian chili paste which makes everything taste better. Liza B. Zimmerman, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Next to Souvenir City is Gulf Shores Souvenirs & Gifts, which has a cartoonish purple octopus on top of its building. al, 23 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'octopus.' 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 octopus

1759, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for octopus

New Latin Octopod-, Octopus, from Greek oktōpous

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The first known use of octopus was in 1759

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Octopus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octopus. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for octopus



English Language Learners Definition of octopus

: a sea animal that has a soft body and eight long arms
: the flesh of an octopus used as food


oc·​to·​pus | \ ˈäk-tə-pəs How to pronounce octopus (audio) \
plural octopuses or octopi\ -​tə-​ˌpī \

Kids Definition of octopus

: a marine animal that has a soft rounded body with eight long flexible arms about its base which have sucking disks able to seize and hold things (as prey)

More from Merriam-Webster on octopus

Nglish: Translation of octopus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of octopus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about octopus


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