tad·​pole | \ˈtad-ˌpōl \

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

That’s why experts traveled into the San Gabriels this week to release 500 tadpoles, reared in the quiet confines of the L.A. Zoo, into a remote creek. latimes.com, "Today: If Roe Vs. Wade Is Overturned," 29 June 2018 But 5,600 tadpoles from the Detroit Zoo are bolstering your numbers. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Puerto Rico just got 11,000 toads courtesy of the Detroit Zoo," 12 June 2018 The spring peepers have long since stopped singing and the tadpoles are beginning their transition into baby frogs. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s official: Summer has begun," 21 June 2018 The tadpoles of western toads squiggle, and water skeeters perform a graceful backwoods ballet. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Battling Scotch broom along Olympic’s Hoh River that threatens fish, forests," 27 May 2018 Near his childhood home in suburban Connecticut, Mr. Stager visits a local lily pond and reflects on dragonflies, damselflies and tadpoles. Danny Heitman, WSJ, "‘Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes’ Review: Earth’s Many Eyes," 25 May 2018 Mature sea lice are gray, lentil-sized crustaceans, also called ectoparasites, that look like small, fanged tadpoles. Amanda Little, WIRED, "The Laser Battle Against Blood-Sucking Parasites of the Deep," 23 May 2018 This fish, which looks more like a tadpole, lives at the bottom of the Mariana Trench and is the deepest confirmed fish in the sea. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Meet the top 10 new species of 2018," 23 May 2018 The swire’s snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) lives in the deepest part of the ocean the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, where this four-inch tadpole-shaped fish appears to be a top predator. Sarah Gray, Fortune, "A 62-Ton Tree and Great Ape Have Made the Top 10 New Species List," 23 May 2018

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

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

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More Definitions for tadpole



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 \

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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