ta·​pir | \ ˈtā-pər also ˈtā-ˌpir or tə-ˈpir How to pronounce tapir (audio) \
plural tapirs also tapir

Definition of tapir

: any of a genus (Tapirus) of herbivorous chiefly nocturnal perissodactyl mammals of tropical America and southeastern Asia from Myanmar to Sumatra that have a heavy sparsely hairy body and the snout and upper lip prolonged into a short flexible proboscis

Illustration of tapir

Illustration of tapir

Examples of tapir in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web AmaZOOnico, one of the biggest rescue centers in Ecuador, has several animals seeking adopters, including Polen, a young ocelot; Biala and Solana, a pair of scarlet macaws; and Poppy, a tapir. Washington Post, "Pining for wildlife? Build your own menagerie with a symbolic adoption.," 15 Jan. 2021 The lowland tapir and the giant anteater are both considered vulnerable. Jill Langlois, National Geographic, "Volunteers coming to rescue jaguars, other animals injured during Brazil's wildfires," 2 Oct. 2020 Jaguars, sloths, tapirs, horses, coyotes, buffalo, rabbits, and squirrels up and down the North American continent are now spared from screwworms too. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "The U.S. Is Spending Millions of Dollars Rearing Flesh-Eating Worms," 26 May 2020 Andueza says that indigenous uses of peatlands—harvesting fruit, fiber, medicinal plants and edible grubs, as well as hunting tapirs and monkeys—generate powerful incentives for the Urarina to protect their waterlogged territory. Daniel Grossman, Scientific American, "Peru’s Peatlands Could Greatly Accelerate Global Warming," 5 Feb. 2020 Tour the Belize Zoo rehabilitation sanctuary at night and observe jaguars, tapirs, and boa constrictors in their natural environments. National Geographic, "Belize Middle School Expedition," 30 Sep. 2019 These open meat markets that serve everything from bats to tapirs to snake to dog meat. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Cornyn defends Trump’s use of term ‘Chinese virus,’ citing markets that sell bats and dogs as meat," 18 Mar. 2020 The two sloshed through thickets of short, wrist-thick trees, along muddy trails that Inuma said had been worn down by tapirs (somewhat akin to wild boars). Daniel Grossman, Scientific American, "Peru’s Peatlands Could Greatly Accelerate Global Warming," 5 Feb. 2020 Although several tapir species remain today, all are declining. National Geographic, "Could Pablo Escobar's escaped hippos help the environment?," 31 Jan. 2020

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

1774, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tapir

Portuguese tapir, tapira, from Tupi tapiʔíra

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Statistics for tapir

Last Updated

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tapir.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tapir. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for tapir



English Language Learners Definition of tapir

: an animal that is like a pig with a long nose and short legs and that lives in tropical America and Southeast Asia


ta·​pir | \ ˈtā-pər How to pronounce tapir (audio) \

Kids Definition of tapir

: a large hoofed plant-eating animal of tropical America and southeastern Asia that has short thick legs, a short tail, and a long flexible snout

More from Merriam-Webster on tapir

Nglish: Translation of tapir for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tapir

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