rep·​tile | \ ˈrep-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce reptile (audio) , -tᵊl \

Definition of reptile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an animal that crawls or moves on its belly (such as a snake) or on small short legs (such as a lizard)
2 : 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
3 : a groveling or despised person



Definition of reptile (Entry 2 of 2)

: characteristic of a reptile : reptilian

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Synonyms for reptile

Synonyms: Noun

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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: Noun According to bystanders, the reptile, around six feet in length, remained atop the shelves for at least an hour. Jennifer Hassan, Anchorage Daily News, "6-foot lizard scaling shelves in Thai 7-Eleven has customers shrieking," 9 Apr. 2021 Using a PayPal account, Kang allegedly purchased turtles from sellers advertising on social media or reptile trade websites. Rhea Mogul, CNN, "Chinese man extradited from Malaysia to US over turtle-smuggling ring worth millions," 11 Dec. 2020 The team identified Southeast Asia and the Amazon as hotspots for sourcing reptile species. James Dinneen, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Quarter of All Reptile Species, Many of Them Endangered, Are Sold Online," 29 Sep. 2020 It’s the official state reptile of the Lone Star State, which has license plates featuring them. al, "Fire ants accidentally sent to Alabama in 1930s helping wipe out Texas horned lizards," 4 Mar. 2021 The Quetzalcoatlus is a pterosaur, which basically means a flying reptile. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio, Texas was home to biggest flying 'dinosaur' ever: Quetzalcoatlus: named after Aztec god," 2 Mar. 2021 And if your ex-boo was an especially snaky one, pay $20 more to have zoo keepers feed a frozen rat to a reptile instead. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Name a cockroach after your ex and watch it get eaten for Valentine's Day," 31 Jan. 2021 This will not placate the reptile-selling industry. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | OTHERS SAY: Snakes in the grass," 7 Mar. 2021 Fields, as the keeper of the Legend of Ol’ Rip, tells schoolchildren the tale of the indestructible reptile. al, "Fire ants accidentally sent to Alabama in 1930s helping wipe out Texas horned lizards," 4 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In 2005, Ferri worked in the reptile department of the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina tore through the below-sea-level community, causing the levees to break and flood the city. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Hurricane Facts: What happens to zoo animals during a hurricane?," 8 Mar. 2021 From all the looking at yourself, because Zoom also involved you, the user, in a kind of reptile staredown with your own Zoom image. James Parker, The Atlantic, "End Meeting for All," 19 Mar. 2021 Many people involved in the reptile trade and pet owners have weighed in on the issue. Fox News, "Florida restricts some exotic reptiles," 27 Feb. 2021 Many people involved in the reptile trade and pet owners have weighed in on the issue. Curt Anderson, Star Tribune, "Pythons, iguanas: Florida restricts some exotic reptiles," 26 Feb. 2021 Commercial breeding of non-native tegu lizards and green iguanas in Florida will end in three years despite the objections of reptile dealers and owners warning of the potential destruction of their industry. Jim Turner,, "Florida bans commercial breeding of tegu lizards and green iguanas," 26 Feb. 2021 Amphibian and reptile populations are in a free fall across the planet. Daniel Rubinoff, Scientific American, "How the Suburbs Could Help Save Biodiversity," 17 Jan. 2021 The intelligent and affectionate lizards are highly prized among reptile owners. Outdoor Life, "Dog-Sized Lizards are Taking Over in the Southern U.S.," 11 Dec. 2020 If Dos regains its strength, the research institute plans to incorporate it into reptile outreach programs. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "In Florida, Pet Cat Brings Home a Rare Two-Headed Snake," 27 Oct. 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reptile


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

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Time Traveler for reptile

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for reptile

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reptile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for reptile



English Language Learners Definition of reptile

: an animal (such as a snake, lizard, turtle, or alligator) that has cold blood, that lays eggs, and that has a body covered with scales or hard parts
informal : a person who cannot be trusted or who is not likable


rep·​tile | \ ˈrep-təl How to pronounce reptile (audio) , -ˌtīl \

Kids Definition of reptile

: a cold-blooded animal (as a snake, lizard, turtle, or alligator) that breathes air and usually has the skin covered with scales or bony plates

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