tad·​pole | \ ˈtad-ˌpōl How to pronounce tadpole (audio) \

Definition of tadpole

: a larval amphibian specifically : a frog or toad larva that has a rounded body with a long tail bordered by fins and external gills soon replaced by internal gills and that undergoes a metamorphosis to the adult

Illustration of tadpole

Illustration of tadpole

tadpole in stages

Examples of tadpole in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The federal agencies worked with her and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to use her stock ponds for tadpole introduction. Lindsey Botts, The Arizona Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 The larvacean resembles a tiny tadpole and lives inside a palatial bubble of mucus that can reach up to a meter long. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2022 As water floods into the whale’s mouth, its throat pouch expands, leaving the whale looking like a bloated tadpole. New York Times, 20 Jan. 2022 This showed that the Australian cane toads had become aggressive cannibals, as eggs placed in with them were over 2.5 times more likely to be cannibalized before producing a tadpole. John Timmer, Wired, 29 Aug. 2021 By the time the hatchlings reach the tadpole stage and are too large to eat, their fellow tadpoles lose interest. John Timmer, Wired, 29 Aug. 2021 To become a frog, a tadpole has to rearrange its face; the genome was thought to hard-wire a set of cell movements for every facial feature. Quanta Magazine, 31 Mar. 2021 Tadpole Tales is about a tadpole cleaning rivers while fighting pollution and other bugs. Zane Pickett, Forbes, 21 May 2021 And yet from this abstract rearrangement of tadpole features, normal frogs emerged. Quanta Magazine, 31 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tadpole.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tadpole

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tadpole

Middle English taddepol, from tode toad + polle head

Learn More About tadpole

Time Traveler for tadpole

Time Traveler

The first known use of tadpole was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near tadpole

Tadjoura, Gulf of


tadpole madtom

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for tadpole

Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tadpole.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tadpole. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for tadpole


tad·​pole | \ ˈtad-ˌpōl How to pronounce tadpole (audio) \

Kids Definition of tadpole

: the larva of a frog or toad that has a long tail, breathes with gills, and lives in water

More from Merriam-Webster on tadpole

Nglish: Translation of tadpole for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tadpole for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tadpole


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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