tor·​toise | \ ˈtȯr-təs How to pronounce tortoise (audio) \

Definition of tortoise

1 : any of a family (Testudinidae) of terrestrial turtles broadly : turtle
2 : someone or something regarded as slow or laggard

Examples of tortoise in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When Vamstad saw the tortoise, the park had only been closed for two months. NBC News, "National park closings gave wildlife room to roam. Rangers advise caution amid reopenings.," 16 May 2020 Tegus pose a threat to native wildlife, including gopher tortoises, a candidate for Endangered Species Act listing. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "Georgia officials trying to stop large, invasive lizard that eats 'anything they want'," 13 May 2020 At the time, there were 14 tortoises left: 12 females and two males, according to the Galápagos Conservancy. Aimee Ortiz,, "Diego, the tortoise whose high sex drive helped save his species, retires," 12 Jan. 2020 Video of her strolling out of the White House in a chic Max Mara coat, putting on her tortoise shell sunglasses with a sly smile, appeared in countless memes. Michelle Goldberg, New York Times, "Nancy Pelosi’s Brilliant Career," 5 May 2020 Now, researchers at Southwest University in China have used a similar method to decipher 3,000-year old ancient texts carved onto ox bones and tortoise shells, or oracle bones. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "This is not a drill: The coronavirus pandemic is testing A.I.’s ability to handle extreme events," 24 Mar. 2020 The first house in Carefree is now home to the D’Aliesio couple, their three children, a dog and two tortoises that live in the backyard. Katelyn Reinhart, azcentral, "Man who built first homes in Carefree talks architecture, early Arizona. A tour of his homes is March 8," 5 Mar. 2020 The Galapagos Islands have 15 species of tortoise that are closely related. Fox News, "Descendants from extinct tortoise species discovered in Galapagos," 5 Feb. 2020 In 1970, Ecuador’s population of the giant Española tortoise was down to two males and twelve females. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 23 Jan. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tortoise

Middle English tortu, tortuse, from Anglo-French tortue — more at turtle

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Time Traveler for tortoise

Time Traveler

The first known use of tortoise was in the 14th century

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Statistics for tortoise

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tortoise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for tortoise


How to pronounce tortoise (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tortoise

: a kind of turtle that lives on land


tor·​toise | \ ˈtȯr-təs How to pronounce tortoise (audio) \

Kids Definition of tortoise

1 : a usually large turtle that lives on land
2 : turtle

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More from Merriam-Webster on tortoise

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tortoise

Spanish Central: Translation of tortoise

Nglish: Translation of tortoise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tortoise for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tortoise

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