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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Godzilla: An aquatic lizard to be reckoned with Godzilla appears to be a giant, semiaquatic reptile. Kiersten Formoso, The Conversation, "Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner," 29 Mar. 2021 This vertical posture is unique for a two-legged reptile and more resembles a standing kangaroo. Kiersten Formoso, The Conversation, "Godzilla vs. Kong: A functional morphologist uses science to pick a winner," 29 Mar. 2021 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His recent posts include theories about an alternate-matrix reality, secret reptile people and unfounded anti-vaccination claims. Devon Link, USA TODAY, "Fact check: A viral TikTok misrepresents 2011 satirical video about Facebook and the CIA," 30 Apr. 2021 Each of the new reptile residents took a turn at putting their heads atop Pop, elder statesman of the area at about 70 years old. Dewayne Bevil,, "Gatorland’s 2 new residents: One alligator found in Lake Michigan; another lived in small aquarium," 5 Mar. 2021 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

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

Time Traveler for reptile

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for reptile

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Reptile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!