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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for reptile

Synonyms: Noun

bastard, beast, bleeder [British], blighter [chiefly British], boor, bounder, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud [slang], crumb [slang], cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, jerk, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, rat fink, rotter, schmuck [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob, snake, so-and-so, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of reptile in a Sentence


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

And as Gretchen Vogel for Science, paleontologists initially thought the fossil was an amalgamation of two animals: a small bird’s body with a marine reptile’s jaw. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "3-D Scans of Fossil Beaks Show How Modern Birds Came to Be," 4 May 2018 With males growing up to 15 feet in length, and females up to ten feet, these massive reptiles won’t be hard to spot with the help of a guide (like those at Down South Airboat Tours). Tyler Moss, Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Best Places to See Wildlife in the U.S.," 23 Apr. 2018 Rumors and a photo of an alligator swimming through Camden Lake drew crowds to Elk Grove over the weekend, but state officials say people who swamped the nearby residential neighborhood were chasing a reptile thousands of miles away. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "State officials say giant gator sighting in Elk Grove was a hoax | The Sacramento Bee," 16 Apr. 2018 The bones of a gigantic prehistoric aquatic reptile have been discovered in England. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Newfound Marine Fossil May Be From the Largest Creature That Ever Lived," 10 Apr. 2018 Guests can see a variety of birds, bugs, mammals and reptiles during the show. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Here are 36 free things to do with your kids around Indy in July," 26 June 2018 The performer hits the carpet in an oxblood velvet shirt over a matching bra and reptile-embossed leather skirt (all Roberto Cavalli) with over-the-knee boots. Lindy Segal,, "All the Standout Style at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards," 20 May 2018 This all may have been an elaborate joke, but watching Hamm and Fallon try to ignore a mobile reptile while remaining in overly-dramatic character is a thing of brilliance. Sarah Lindig, Marie Claire, "Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon Get Dramatic in 'Turtle Soap Opera' Sketch on 'The Tonight Show'," 15 Oct. 2016 Six others had wear that suggested the tools had been used to scrape hides, which could have been mammal, reptile, or fish. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Small Mayan saltworks could have supplied thousands, preserved food," 9 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And hey, anything is possible — well, maybe not reptile babies. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "The Most Ridiculous Taylor Swift Conspiracy Theories," 28 Aug. 2017 Reptile world An exploration of snakes, lizards and their relatives. Jillian S. Jarrett, Washington Post, "What’s happening in Prince George's County," 26 July 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about reptile

Dictionary Entries near reptile








Statistics for reptile

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reptile

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on reptile

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!