tor·​toise ˈtȯr-təs How to pronounce tortoise (audio)
: any of a family (Testudinidae) of terrestrial turtles
broadly : turtle
: someone or something regarded as slow or laggard

Examples of tortoise in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The goal is to protect tortoises and ecosystems as a whole, although there’s no new money involved. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2024 Today the lemur and tortoise programs on Necker have successfully had both species reproduce on Necker—the only place in the world outside of Madagascar and the Seychelles where the animals breed. Shannon McMahon, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Apr. 2024 Lonesome George Dies George was a Pinta Island tortoise. Foreign Affairs, 28 Dec. 2015 For more than 30 years, the organization has helped rehome turtles and tortoises, animals that inhabit every continent—except Antarctica—with the United States boasting the greatest number of turtle species. Tracy Scott Forson, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for tortoise 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near tortoise

Cite this Entry

“Tortoise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


tor·​toise ˈtȯrt-əs How to pronounce tortoise (audio)
: turtle entry 2
especially : a land-dwelling turtle

More from Merriam-Webster on tortoise

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