rep·tile | \ ˈrep-ˌtī(-ə)l , -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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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

At Kids Dinosaur of the Month Club LLC, the answer is a father in Bucks County who, with his wife and two grown children, want to feed youths’ fascination with enormous reptiles — and getting packages in the mail. Diane Mastrull,, "No batteries required: These entrepreneurs are banking on a market for no-tech fun," 28 June 2018 Many are potentially dangerous, including wolves, grizzly bears, komodo dragons, and reptiles such as sea snakes and cottonmouths. Gregory B. Hladky,, "Lots of Creatures Are Prohibited As Pets In Connecticut," 27 Apr. 2018 So Holmes and his colleagues looked at nearly 190 creatures in other vertebrate classes — from jawless fish such as lampreys, which have changed little from their evolutionary ancestors, to reptiles such as turtles. Giorgia Guglielmi, Scientific American, "Huge Trove of Unknown Viruses Found in Fish, Frogs and Reptiles," 5 Apr. 2018 The senior military advisor to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed in a press conference in Tehran today that Western nations had deployed reptiles as nuclear spies. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "West sent lizards as nuclear spies, claims Iran defense official," 13 Feb. 2018 Live entertainment includes a reptile show at 4 p.m. July 21, plus face painting, balloon twisting and musical performances by local, regional and national groups throughout the event. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Water fights, parade still going strong at 73rd annual Alpine Fest," 11 July 2018 Boan has worked with crocodiles and reptiles from Cuba to Australia. Marco Santana,, "PODCAST: Gatorland's swamp girl Savannah Boan (Ep. 37)," 11 July 2018 Other reptiles have been spotted -- and in some cases removed -- from multiple areas in the West Texas town. Danielle Garrand, CBS News, "Rattlesnake hiding among child's toys bites toddler in Texas," 26 June 2018 That followed the suspension around Maximo’s body of a flock of pterosaur models — flying prehistoric reptiles — on guy lines, birds on a wire. Steve Johnson,, "With a skeleton and megaplanters, the Field Museum fleshes out its main hall," 26 June 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.

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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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Statistics for reptile

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for reptile

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

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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

: a person who cannot be trusted or who is not likable


rep·tile | \ ˈrep-təl , -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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