river otter


: any of various Old and New World otters (especially genera Lutra and Lontra)
especially : one (Lontra canadensis) of Alaska, Canada, and the conterminous U.S. found in aquatic environments from marine coastal regions to high mountains

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Mo, named after the Molalla River in northwest Oregon's Clackamas County, is the first river otter to be born at the Oregon Zoo. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, 8 June 2022 This first litter of river otters was followed just a few weeks later by the zoo's second surviving litter of river otters — three pups born to Malarkey and the zoo's other adult female river otter, Clover. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 May 2022 Mammals like the moose, river otter, and red fox can all be spotted on land, while close to 300 different varieties of bird have been recorded in the park over the decades. Jared Ranahan, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Related:In early March the Milwaukee County Zoo announced its first surviving litter of river otter pups. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 Apr. 2022 That has made the community a sanctuary for wildlife, brimming with waterfowl, fish and the occasional river otter. Kellie Hwang, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Feb. 2022 The giant river otter is pretty large compared to standard otters. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 26 Jan. 2022 According to Fish and Game, river otter attacks have happened in recent years, but are not commonplace. Zachariah Hughes, Anchorage Daily News, 25 Sep. 2021 But one animal moving deeper into urban areas isn’t as well known: the North American river otter. Chloe Bennett, Dallas News, 8 July 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'river otter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of river otter was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near river otter

Cite this Entry

“River otter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/river%20otter. Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on river otter

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Standardized Test Words, Vol. 2

  • a pencil broken in half on top of a test answer sheet
  • The business’s new computer system proved not to be a panacea.
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?