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 Over the past three years, 3,274 bullfrogs and tadpoles were culled from Turtle Haven and on adjacent U.S. Forest Service property, Bergh said. oregonlive, "Inside the secret preserve that’s bringing baby turtles back to the Columbia gorge (Video)," 30 Oct. 2019 The researchers used radio signals to chart the frogs’ paths on 23 separate journeys, noting each time tadpole-toting fathers passed by water or deposited their young. Jennifer Leman, Scientific American, "Poison Frog Fathers Ferry Their Tadpoles Great Distances," 4 Sep. 2019 To find, remember, and navigate among egg nests and tadpole nurseries in such a complex, changeable landscape requires a brain that can make and revise a mental map of its surroundings. Geetha Iyer, National Geographic, "This surprisingly smart frog makes maps in its mind," 25 July 2019 They are characterized by the direct development from egg to small frog; the tadpole stage happens inside the egg, so when the egg hatches, little frogs crawl out. Suzanne Roberts, Longreads, "The Offer of a Two-Night Stand, When Just One Would Do," 15 July 2019 New research shows that Goliath frogs -- the world's largest frog species, found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea -- build ponds for their eggs and tadpoles, moving rocks more than half of their body weight in the process. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, "World's biggest frogs are so strong they move heavy rocks to build their own ponds," 9 Aug. 2019 On June 17th, the Como Zoo released 3,288 Wyoming toad tadpoles bred in St. Paul into the Laramie Basin. Zekriah Chaudhry, Twin Cities, "Como Zoo tries to bring rare toad species back to the wild," 5 July 2019 Scientists say the amphibian chytrid fungus is one reason, but climate change also may contribute to some pools drying up before tadpoles mature. Patricia Edmonds, National Geographic, "This toad’s sex life hinges on finding the perfect pool," 17 June 2019 A year ago, about 500 tadpoles were released into a stream elsewhere in the range. Los Angeles Times, "Meet the ‘rock star’ frog breeder vying to save Southern California’s rarest amphibian," 15 Aug. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for tadpole

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tadpole.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tadpole. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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How to pronounce tadpole (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tadpole

: a small creature that becomes an adult frog or toad, that has a rounded body and a long tail, and that lives in water


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tadpole

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tadpole

Spanish Central: Translation of tadpole

Nglish: Translation of tadpole for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tadpole for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tadpole

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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