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 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 She is memorialized in a salsa song popular among Venezuelans, and a statue of her naked and sitting astride a wild tapir stands in the center-divide of a Caracas highway. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Venezuelans seek strength, healing from mythical goddess," 14 Oct. 2019 More than 4,800 species are endemic -- including giant otters, tapirs and jaguars -- and of more than 11,000 plant species found in the Cerrado, nearly half are found nowhere else on earth, according to the World Wildlife Foundation. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, "The Amazon burns. But another part of Brazil is being destroyed faster," 22 Sep. 2019 The Gran Chaco, which spans from Bolivia and Brazil to Paraguay and Argentina, is extremely bio-diverse, with more than 3,400 plant and 900 animal species – including quebracho blanco trees, tapirs and jaguars. Joel E. Correia, The Conversation, "South America’s second-largest forest is also burning – and ‘environmentally friendly’ charcoal is subsidizing its destruction," 2 Oct. 2019 Concentrated in the coastal plains of Sumatra, Borneo, and Papua, these peat forests provide a habitat for rare species such as orangutans, leopards, Sumatran tigers, tapirs, white-winged ducks, and freshwater turtles. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "Indonesia's fires are bad, but new measures prevented them from becoming worse," 1 Oct. 2019 Ride a longboat down the Tiputini River with an indigenous guide, who will help us spot turtles, tapirs, and caimans bobbing at the water’s surface. National Geographic, "Ecuador and the Galápagos Expedition: Biodiversity Hotspot," 10 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of tapir

1774, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tapir

Portuguese tapir, tapira, from Tupi tapiʔíra

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tapir

Time Traveler for tapir

Time Traveler

The first known use of tapir was in 1774

See more words from the same year

Statistics for tapir

Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tapir.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tapir. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tapir


How to pronounce tapir (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tapir

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tapir

Spanish Central: Translation of tapir

Nglish: Translation of tapir for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tapir

Comments on tapir

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!