snapping turtle


Definition of snapping turtle 

: either of two large American freshwater turtles (family Chelydridae) with a large head, powerful jaws, a long tail, and a strong musky odor:

a : one (Chelydra serpentina) that has the head covered with smooth skin, has large plates in a double row on the underside of the tail, and is distributed from eastern Canada to Central America

b : alligator snapping turtle

Illustration of snapping turtle

Illustration of snapping turtle

snapping turtle a

Examples of snapping turtle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Alligator snapping turtles are sometimes considered less dangerous than other kinds of snapping turtles, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Missing a finger? This man just found one — inside a snapping turtle, Louisiana cops say," 13 June 2018 Master Police Officer Hawkins stopped to help a large snapping turtle cross the road after leaving a Honor Guard detail at the Naturalization Ceremony yesterday. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Police officer helps turtle cross road in torrential downpour," 7 June 2018 The students watched as the sick puppy was eaten alive by a snapping turtle in a Preston, Idaho junior high classroom in early March, state prosecutors alleged in a Friday filing. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "Middle school teacher charged for feeding live puppy to snapping turtle while students watched," 3 June 2018 For Sedaris a snapping turtle with a partly missing foot and a tumor on its head becomes an unlikely leitmotif. Alan Cumming, New York Times, "David Sedaris Has a New Essay Collection. It Changed Alan Cumming’s Whole Worldview.," 25 May 2018 He is charged after allegedly feeding puppy to snapping turtle. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Idaho teacher accused of animal cruelty pleads not guilty at court appearance Tuesday," 10 July 2018 Meanwhile, people all over Massachusetts are painstakingly shepherding snapping turtles out of the road at such a clip that the State Police had to issue a warning, the Globe reported. Nestor Ramos,, "Alleged hit-and-run driver gave voice to attitude many adopt behind the wheel: Get out of my way," 7 June 2018 An Idaho teacher accused of feeding a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in front of several middle school students was charged Friday with misdemeanor animal cruelty. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Idaho teacher accused of feeding live puppy to turtle faces charge," 3 June 2018 In the most wonderfully weird tale, Sedaris discovers some people feeding snapping turtles Pop Tarts, potato chips and all sorts of other junk food. Caroline Leavitt,, "'Calypso,' by David Sedaris," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'snapping turtle.' 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 snapping turtle

1784, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about snapping turtle

Share snapping turtle

Statistics for snapping turtle

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for snapping turtle

The first known use of snapping turtle was in 1784

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for snapping turtle

snapping turtle


English Language Learners Definition of snapping turtle

: a large American turtle that has strong jaws and that is sometimes used for food

snapping turtle

snap·ping tur·tle | \ˌsna-piŋ-ˈtər-tᵊl\

Kids Definition of snapping turtle

: a large American turtle that catches its prey with a snap of the powerful jaws

More from Merriam-Webster on snapping turtle

See words that rhyme with snapping turtle Encyclopedia article about snapping turtle

Comments on snapping turtle

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!