otter

noun

ot·​ter ˈä-tər How to pronounce otter (audio)
plural otters also otter
1
: any of various largely aquatic carnivorous mammals (such as genus Lutra or Enhydra) of the weasel family that usually have webbed and clawed feet and dark brown fur
2
: the fur or pelt of an otter

Illustration of otter

Illustration of otter
  • otter 1

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Beavers expand the water system on the Baldwin Peninsula, improving the conditions for fish and insects, which in turn creates more food for minks, otters and martens. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Apr. 2023 Your visual cortex has evolved to appreciate the beauty of streamlining—the low-drag, energy-saving gorgeousness of falcons, dolphins, otters and whales, killers all. Dan Neil, wsj.com, 13 Apr. 2023 On Sunday, Jake was able to see his 40 or so friends and family in an Xcel Energy Center suite, some adorned with shirts with a cartoon otter on them. Dallas News, 6 Mar. 2022 While heterosexual couples typically have bride and groom figurines atop their wedding cakes, Gadsby and Shamash chose two otters swimming on their backs and holding hands — right in front of a shark emerging from the icing with its mouth open, displaying two rows of sharp teeth. Jo Yurcaba, NBC News, 15 May 2023 Harry’s Zoo Cafe has over a dozen Asian small-clawed otters available for close encounters. Chris Iovenko, Discover Magazine, 4 May 2023 According to a Tweet from the Detroit Zoo, a new otter is joining the zoo and a naming contest is currently being held. Marina Johnson, Detroit Free Press, 4 May 2023 Birdlife is profuse and there’s a chance of spotting sea lions, dolphins, blue duiker antelope, hyrax and the cape clawless otters that give the trail its name. Joe Yogerst, CNN, 3 May 2023 The births mean the park is now home to nine giant otters, park officials said, the most in a single zoo or wildlife park globally. Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English otre, oter, otir, going back to Old English otr, oter, otor, going back to Germanic *utra- (whence also Middle Dutch otter "otter," Old High German ottar, Old Norse otr), going back to Indo-European *ud-r-o- "aquatic animal" (whence also Sanskrit udráḥ "aquatic animal, otter," Avestan udra-) with a feminine variant *ud-r-eh2-, whence Latin lutra "otter" (with unetymological l- and -t-), Russian výdra, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian vȉdra, Lithuanian ū́dra, Old Prussian udro (Balto-Slavic with vowel lengthening and acute accent), Greek hýdra "aquatic snake, hydra" (also hýdros "the grass snake Natrix natrix," énydris "otter"); both forms zero-grade derivatives of Indo-European *u̯ód-r-/*u̯ed-n- "water" — more at water entry 1

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of otter was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near otter

Cite this Entry

“Otter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/otter. Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

otter

noun
ot·​ter ˈät-ər How to pronounce otter (audio)
plural otter or otters
1
: any of several water-dwelling mammals that are related to the weasels and minks, have webbed feet with claws and dark brown fur, and feed on other animals (as fish, clams, and crabs) that live in or near the water compare sea otter
2
: the fur or pelt of an otter

More from Merriam-Webster on otter

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