pan·​go·​lin | \ ˈpaŋ-gə-lən How to pronounce pangolin (audio) , ˈpan- \

Definition of pangolin

: any of a family (Manidae of the order Pholidota) of Asian and African toothless mammals having the body covered dorsally with large imbricated horny scales

called also scaly anteater

Illustration of pangolin

Illustration of pangolin

Examples of pangolin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Scientists still debate whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a bat or a pangolin. Quanta Magazine, "Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?," 24 Aug. 2020 In fact, while some researchers go gaga over a cute panda or pangolin, Kwak has a thing for parasites. Eric Niiler, Wired, "Should We Conserve Parasites? Apparently, Yes," 13 Aug. 2020 The remaining five species, including the Indian pangolin, are listed as either vulnerable or endangered. Ben Westcott, CNN, "China removes pangolin scales from traditional medicine list, helping protect world's most trafficked mammal," 10 June 2020 Up to a third of the pangolin species may have played host to the virus. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Saturday, May 30," 30 May 2020 Researchers determined that the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged from horseshoe bats rather than a biowarfare lab, and generally agreed that pangolins, rather than snakes, were the likely intermediary carriers, although some support was voiced for turtles. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's Magazine, "Findings," 25 May 2020 In some Asian countries, the meat is considered a delicacy and pangolin scales are used in traditional Asian medicine. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "'A loaded gun:' Wet markets, wildlife trafficking pose threat for the next pandemic," 16 May 2020 In addition to selling fresh meat, fish and produce, wet markets typically sell an array of exotic animals and pangolins have already been eyed as a possible host. Fox News, "Coronavirus infection in children may not start with a cough: researchers," 13 May 2020 But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts believe began when a previously unknown virus jumped from an wild creature—possibly a snake or pangolin—to humans at a wet market in the central city of Wuhan. Charlie Campbell / Shanghai, Time, "‘How Can I Get Through This?’ The Impact of Coronavirus on China's Economy Is Only Just Beginning," 21 Apr. 2020

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

1774, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pangolin

Malay dialect pĕngguling

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pangolin

Time Traveler for pangolin

Time Traveler

The first known use of pangolin was in 1774

See more words from the same year

Statistics for pangolin

Cite this Entry

“Pangolin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on pangolin Encyclopedia article about pangolin

Comments on pangolin

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!