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

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 The giant reptile can be seen in a video being secured around the jaws by Usman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name. Reuters, CNN, 28 June 2022 Based on the bestselling children’s book by Bernard Waber, the musical comedy centers on the title reptile who has an extraordinary singing talent and lives with the Primm family in a New York City house. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 20 June 2022 Some will choose a circuitous path around the reptile. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 June 2022 Although a snake’s scales are shiny and may appear slimy, the reptile’s body is dry to the touch. Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Apr. 2022 The reptile now swims alongside several other sea creatures that are from other places and have most recently been housed in the museum's collections. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Mar. 2022 In addition to the reptile, Richie arrived to set with dramatic blue eye shadow. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 22 Feb. 2022 Originally classified as a reptile, Basilosaurus dwarfed the other early whales. Devon Bidal, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Feb. 2022 Authorities removed the out-of-place reptile from the premises and took the animal into custody, hoping to find the gator's owner. Kelli Bender,, 14 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Reggie was placed there by two reptile enthusiasts who’d raised him in their San Pedro homes, alongside snapping turtles, piranhas, rattlesnakes and desert tortoises. Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2022 Violations included filthy cages, belated veterinary care that led to the deaths of a gecko and ferret, excessive amounts of dead fish in tanks and inadequate temperatures in exotic reptile enclosures, according to PETA. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 May 2022 Previous studies of two other reptile groups, dinosaurs and crocodiles, proposed that fast early evolution helped these animals shoulder out competitors and quickly dominate the landscape. Riley Black, Scientific American, 17 Feb. 2022 The freezing weather shocked the area's humane and reptile residents. Natasha Dado,, 31 Jan. 2022 The assessment fills an important gap, said Alex Pyron, an evolutionary biologist at George Washington University who focuses on reptile and amphibian biodiversity and was not involved in the research. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 More than half of all reptile species live in forested habitats. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 May 2022 One-fifth of all reptile species face the risk of extinction, with crocodiles and turtles most threatened, according to a groundbreaking new study. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 30 Apr. 2022 Urgent and targeted conservation efforts, such as habitat restoration and controlling invasive species, are needed to restore the populations of many reptile species, the researchers said. Byjulia Jacobo, ABC News, 28 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Reptile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for reptile


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

More from Merriam-Webster on reptile

Nglish: Translation of reptile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of reptile for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about reptile


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