om·​ni·​vore | \ ˈäm-ni-ˌvȯr How to pronounce omnivore (audio) \

Definition of omnivore

: one that is omnivorous Bears and coyotes are omnivores.

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The Classic Omnivore

Human beings seem to be classic omnivores. Originally living as "hunter-gatherers", we hunted and fished when possible but also gathered nuts, berries, fruits, seeds, and roots for much of our diet. We're physically well suited for both tasks; our hands are perfect for picking things, and our build is ideal for running down even the fastest game animals because of our great stamina. Some 10,000 years ago humans began practicing agriculture involving both animals and plants. The other omnivorous mammals include chimpanzees, pigs, opossums, porcupines, bears, raccoons, chipmunks, mice and rats, and skunks. But even many mammals classed as carnivorous turn out to be capable of shifting to plant foods when necessary.

Examples of omnivore in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web From the health consequences to the ethical and environmental implications, being an omnivore carries a lot of baggage. Frans Lanting, National Geographic, "Dinosaurs for dinner?," 25 Nov. 2020 Madison eats meat occasionally and identifies as an open-minded omnivore. Jessica Zack,, "Deborah Madison, pioneer of vegetarian dining with Greens Restaurant, offers captivating memoir," 10 Nov. 2020 At top are three extant species: the gharial, which eats fish; the American crocodile, which eats harder invertebrates like snails and crustaceans; and Grey’s monitor lizard, which is an omnivore. Matt Simon, Wired, "What Did Pterosaurs Eat? Look Very Closely at Their Teeth," 28 Oct. 2020 This linen cooler bag features a striking fox print with matching orange accents, and also comes in other animal designs for the hungry omnivore or herbivore. Popular Science, "Four lunch bags that will inspire you to take a proper midday break," 3 June 2020 While dogs are omnivores who can be persuaded to eat such health-food staples as quinoa and broccoli slaw, cats are mini-carnivores related to lions and tigers, with fairly limited dietary interests. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Why the pet industry hopes Americans will start treating their cats more like dogs," 19 May 2020 But children are omnivores now, with access to a whole universe of music on streaming services, and hear songs on YouTube, via gaming systems, through TikTok and so much more. New York Times, "Beyond ‘Trolls’ and ‘Frozen’: What Are Our Kids Listening To?," 19 Apr. 2020 Even omnivores are satisfied, peeling off the costra-like crispy cheese bits baked into the sides of the dish. Elyse Inamine, Bon Appétit, "This Cheesy Baked Pasta Was Designed For Children—I Feed It To My Adult Friends," 28 Feb. 2020 Those plants then feed herbivores and omnivores, allowing the cycle to continue. National Geographic, "Rare fossil of bone-crushing crocodile cousin found in Brazil," 5 Feb. 2020

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

1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for omnivore

New Latin omnivora, neuter plural of omnivorus, from Latin

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Time Traveler for omnivore

Time Traveler

The first known use of omnivore was in 1871

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Statistics for omnivore

Last Updated

9 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Omnivore.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for omnivore


How to pronounce omnivore (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of omnivore

technical : an animal that eats both plants and other animals


om·​ni·​vore | \ ˈäm-ni-ˌvȯr How to pronounce omnivore (audio) \

Kids Definition of omnivore

: an animal that feeds on plants and other animals

More from Merriam-Webster on omnivore

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for omnivore Encyclopedia article about omnivore

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