om·​ni·​vore ˈäm-ni-ˌvȯr How to pronounce omnivore (audio)
: 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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The expectations were sky-high for their first public collaboration, and these two musical omnivores not only meet them here, but exceeded them. Ingrid Fajardo, Billboard, 24 Mar. 2023 If girls are sugar and spice, does that equate them to herbivores, to the boy-snips-and-snails of omnivores? Kyle Lukoff, Harper's BAZAAR, 10 May 2023 Predator hunting, however, can be a little different since most predator animals are omnivores and often nocturnal. Nancy Jo Adams, Popular Mechanics, 16 Feb. 2023 An omnivore rather than a strict carnivore. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 11 Oct. 2016 Paleontologists expect that Effigia was an omnivore with a preference for plants, although precisely what this Triassic reptile ate is as yet unknown. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Mar. 2023 Included in the six diets was the catchall omnivore diet, which was represented by 86% of survey participants. Melissa Breyer, Treehugger, 3 Mar. 2023 Cook like an omnivore. Janelle Bitker, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 Apr. 2021 In the kitchen, Varanya Geyoonsawat, 35, who as sous-chef is the highest-ranking kitchen employee below Mr. Gourdet, worked alongside Jasmyne Romero-Clark, 27, prepping for the three six-course tasting menus — one pescatarian, one vegan, one omnivore — served five nights a week. New York Times, 23 Feb. 2021 See More

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

Word History


New Latin omnivora, neuter plural of omnivorus, from Latin

First Known Use

1871, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of omnivore was in 1871

Dictionary Entries Near omnivore

Cite this Entry

“Omnivore.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


om·​ni·​vore ˈäm-ni-ˌvō(ə)r How to pronounce omnivore (audio)
: one that is omnivorous

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