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rep·​tile ˈrep-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce reptile (audio)
: an animal that crawls or moves on its belly (such as a snake) or on small short legs (such as a lizard)
: any of a class (Reptilia) of cold-blooded, air-breathing, usually egg-laying vertebrates that include the alligators and crocodiles, lizards, snakes, turtles, and extinct related forms (such as dinosaurs and pterosaurs) and that have a body typically covered with scales or bony plates and a bony skeleton with a single occipital condyle, a distinct quadrate bone usually immovably articulated with the skull, and ribs attached to the sternum
: a groveling or despised person


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: characteristic of a reptile : reptilian

Examples of reptile in a Sentence

Noun He called the governor's top aide a reptile. the actor plays a total reptile who's somehow still a hit with the ladies
Recent Examples on the Web
The footage starts with the reptile walking toward the camera. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 16 May 2024 But like most reptiles, these giants don’t start their lives at those titanic sizes — even relatively speaking. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for reptile 

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

Word History



Middle English reptil, from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French reptile (feminine), from Late Latin reptile (neuter), from neuter of reptilis creeping, from Latin reptus, past participle of repere to crawl; akin to Lithuanian rėplioti to crawl

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1607, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reptile was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near reptile

Cite this Entry

“Reptile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
rep·​tile ˈrep-tᵊl How to pronounce reptile (audio)
: any of a group of cold-blooded air-breathing vertebrates (as snakes, lizards, turtles, and alligators) that usually lay eggs and have skin covered with scales or bony plates


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: characteristic of a reptile : reptilian

More from Merriam-Webster on reptile

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