ot·ter | \ˈä-tər \
plural otters also otter

Definition of 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

Examples of otter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Wildlife managers can use that information to help manage otter populations in the wild. Gogo Lidz, Newsweek, "How Aquariums Can Actually Save Animals in the Wild," 21 Sep. 2015 Animals included lions in Tanzania, otters in Brazil, coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland and tigers in Nepal. Washington Post, "Many animals are shifting from day to night to avoid people," 15 June 2018 Her boat house attracts an otter whose only purpose there seems to be relieving himself. Walter Reeves, ajc, "Rose black spot can be controlled," 11 July 2018 Biologists had no reports last year of dead ducks, otters, raccoons or other animals that eat mussels. Tim Prudente,, "Explosion of false dark mussels revives hopes for clearer waters and concern for dogs in Anne Arundel County," 11 July 2018 Take a day trip to Resurrection or Kachemak Bay or an overnighter to Prince William Sound to observe whales, otters, sea lions, glaciers and towering peaks. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Want to get off the beaten path in Alaska? Get on the water instead," 2 May 2018 To the Salish, the author writes, the salmon were a public resource and a sacred trust; to those who displaced them the fish were, like the otters, a commodity. Richard Adams Carey, WSJ, "‘Fishing Lessons’ Review: Sea-to-Table Stewardship," 25 Apr. 2018 Another is traumatized after watching an otter devour a baby swan. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: Snakes, Landslides & Adventures in Real Estate," 22 June 2018 An otter slipped between my feet and disappeared into the river. Porter Fox, New York Times, "On a Canoe Trip Along the U.S.-Canada Border, Solitude and Shooting Stars," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'otter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of otter

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

History and Etymology for otter

Middle English oter, from Old English otor; akin to Old High German ottar otter, Greek hydōr water — more at water

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about otter

Dictionary Entries near otter






otter board

otter canoe

Statistics for otter

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for otter

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for otter



English Language Learners Definition of otter

: an animal that has dark brown fur and webbed feet with claws and that eats fish


ot·ter | \ˈä-tər \

Kids Definition of otter

: a web-footed animal that lives mostly in the water, feeds on fish, and has dark brown fur

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on otter

What made you want to look up otter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!