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 Passengers spotted Clyde the tortoise walking the rail line, to the disbelief of railway workers, on Monday, according to SWNS. People Staff, Peoplemag, 2 Aug. 2022 Future Fairbanks club owner and North Star Borough Assemblyman Pete Aiken owned two raccoons amongst a menagerie that ran the gamut of a regular tortoise to two alligators. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2022 When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79, the volcano buried the city and the tortoise under 20 meters (65 feet) of debris. David Bressan, Forbes, 24 June 2022 As the central bank raises interest rates, remember the tortoise, the hare and Milton Friedman. Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, 20 July 2022 The tortoise's former caretakers also modified the wheels to increase their function before sending the animal to the Chester Zoo. Shafiq Najib,, 7 July 2022 This is where being the tortoise instead of the hare may be the better path to stable, long-term growth. Jason Hennessey, Rolling Stone, 29 June 2022 There may be another tortoise yet to be identified, according to recent research. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 10 June 2022 The tortoise's favorite foods include bananas, cabbage, carrots, and apples—hand fed to him by Hollins. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near tortoise



tortoise beetle

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Last Updated

12 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tortoise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for tortoise


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

Kids Definition of tortoise

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tortoise

Nglish: Translation of tortoise for Spanish Speakers

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


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