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 : 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 Former SeaQuest employees claim turtles were crushed by children, birds were stepped on and killed, and an octopus was boiled to death in a tank. Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, "SeaQuest aquarium’s dream of opening at Galleria mall ends," 13 Dec. 2020 This year, the new additions include a pink octopus and a Christmas unicorn. Tara Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Eight Elaborate Christmas Displays Across America—and the People Behind Them," 9 Dec. 2020 Dorsey, like the late-19th-century railroad conglomerates, operates a virtual octopus, as do Facebook and Google. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Vote No on 1984," 2 Nov. 2020 Neptune, a Giant Pacific octopus at the Newport Aquarium, got a jack-o'-lantern to explore and play with in honor of Halloween. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "Start your Halloween with a creepy video, courtesy of the Newport Aquarium," 31 Oct. 2020 Why, for instance, the sudden closeup of a writhing octopus, into which somebody bites? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Martin Eden” Lurches with Salty, Oceanic Appetites," 16 Oct. 2020 My Octopus Teacher follows the story of the year Craig Foster spent with a wild octopus. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Is Netflix recreating the old broadcast TV network?," 16 Oct. 2020 The sight would be compared to a graveyard: Along a bay shore on Russia's far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, more than a dozen octopus washed up lifeless. Washington Post, "In Russia’s Far East, suspected oil leak blamed for killing octopi, sickening surfers," 5 Oct. 2020 Whether being joyful about finally hitting land for the first time, or winning a challenge, or catching an octopus, Nate’s laugh lit up Survivor: Cook Islands. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Nate Gonzalez almost got taken out of Cook Islands by fire ants," 29 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for octopus

Time Traveler

The first known use of octopus was in 1759

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Statistics for octopus

Last Updated

21 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Octopus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/octopus. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce octopus (audio)

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)

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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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