ot·​ter | \ ˈä-tər How to pronounce otter (audio) \
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 The land-roving otter families all have names, such as the Bishan family (above), pictured crossing a downtown street. Paul Nicklen, National Geographic, "When will trainers stop drugging racehorses?," 12 Mar. 2020 Some sell more unusual fare, including live snakes, turtles and cicadas, guinea pigs, bamboo rats, badgers, hedgehogs, otters, palm civets, even wolf cubs. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, "China’s Omnivorous Markets Are in the Eye of a Lethal Outbreak Once Again," 25 Jan. 2020 Some sell more unusual fare, including live snakes, turtles and cicadas, guinea pigs, bamboo rats, badgers, hedgehogs, otters, palm civets, even wolf cubs. Steven Lee Myers,, "In Chinese markets packed with wildlife, a stew of emerging viruses," 25 Jan. 2020 Personal watercraft can be especially disruptive to wildlife like otters, seabirds and whales, the groups say. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Fish and Game proposes lifting Jet Ski ban on Kachemak Bay," 29 Dec. 2019 McKenzie also has the option to direct the new adaptation, which follows a poor otter family who risks everything for the chance to win the cash prize of a talent contest for Christmas, but a decision has not yet been made. Justin Kroll,, "‘Flight of the Conchords” Bret McKenzie to adapt Jim Henson’s ‘Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas’," 22 Oct. 2019 Evolutionarily speaking, seals are thought to be most closely related to bears and the group of animals that includes weasels and otters, as well as skunks, raccoons, and red pandas. National Geographic, "Seals," 24 Dec. 2019 Interactive activities available for extra fees include snorkeling with stingrays, meetups with sloths and otters, sleeping with sharks and more. Deborah Fleck, Dallas News, "Looking for winter family fun? Try Dallas-Fort Worth’s museums, aquariums and indoor play places," 10 Jan. 2020 Play—or scientifically speaking, voluntary recreational activity—is widespread in the animal kingdom, with dolphins, cats, dogs, otters, ravens and even crocodiles engaging in forms of play. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Rats Learned to Play Hide and Seek to Help Study the Brain," 13 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of otter

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

History and Etymology for otter

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

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Time Traveler for otter

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

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Last Updated

27 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Otter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for otter


How to pronounce otter (audio)

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 How to pronounce otter (audio) \

Kids Definition of otter

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on otter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for otter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with otter

Spanish Central: Translation of otter

Nglish: Translation of otter for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about otter

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