the·​ro·​pod ˈthir-ə-ˌpäd How to pronounce theropod (audio)
plural theropods
: any of a suborder (Theropoda) of carnivorous, bipedal, saurischian dinosaurs (such as a tyrannosaur or velociraptor) having hollow, thin-walled bones and usually small forelimbs

Note: Birds are descended from one lineage of small theropods.

Examples of theropod in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Previous work had uncovered evidence of warm-bloodedness in both theropods and ornithischians, such as feathers that trap body heat, according to the university’s statement. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 May 2024 Paleontologists view the prehistoric bird-like creature as a transitional fossil, bridging small carnivorous dinosaurs, known as theropods, with modern birds, Live Science’s Joseph Castro writes. Aaron Boorstein, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 May 2024 The dinosaur tracks belong to theropods, sauropods, and iguanodontians, and are spread across three rock outcroppings in the Brazilian state of Paraíba. Isaac Schultz / Gizmodo, Quartz, 28 Mar. 2024 The large theropod roamed what is now known as the northern part of Africa during the Cretaceous period. Elizabeth Gamillo, Discover Magazine, 27 Feb. 2024 But a new study has concluded that theropods living alongside massive sauropod dinosaurs, such as the Brontosaurus, would have had access to a smorgasbord of dinosaur flesh, more than enough to sustain them for years on end. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 14 Nov. 2023 Full of possibilities The researchers also found a similar split among the 40 percent of theropods that became smaller over evolutionary time, including the sickle-clawed raptors. Jack Tamisiea, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2023 Published in Science in February, the results revealed that the theropods used an assortment of developmental mechanisms to size up and size down. Jack Tamisiea, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2023 The findings could shed new light on the evolution of birds, which arose from a group of carnivorous, two-legged dinosaurs called theropods. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'theropod.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin Theropoda, from Greek thēr wild animal + pod-, pous foot — more at fierce, foot

First Known Use

1883, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of theropod was in 1883

Dictionary Entries Near theropod

Cite this Entry

“Theropod.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

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