tri·​cer·​a·​tops | \ (ˌ)trī-ˈser-ə-ˌtäps How to pronounce triceratops (audio) \
plural triceratops also triceratopses\ (ˌ)trī-​ˈser-​ə-​ˌtäp-​səz How to pronounce triceratops (audio) \

Definition of triceratops

: any of a genus (Triceratops) of large herbivorous quadrupedal ceratopsian dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous with three horns, a bony hood or crest on the neck, and hoofed toes

Did you know?

The name triceratops, meaning literally "three-horned face", refers to the two horns above its eyes and the smaller third horn on its snout. Just as striking was the frilled hood or ruff that rose behind its head, though no one is quite sure what it was for. The triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to evolve and also one of the last to become extinct. It could reach lengths of 30 feet and could stand nearly eight feet high. Despite its ferocious looks and three-foot-long horns, the triceratops was actually a vegetarian.

Examples of triceratops in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Interspersed amid this whimsical woodland are several large-scale dinosaur statues, including a Tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops. Nevin Martell, Washington Post, 28 July 2022 In one, a tiny triceratops grew to lifesize before the board members' eyes. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, 23 May 2022 As its name implies, Big John is a rather large triceratops skeleton, one that originated in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 7 Apr. 2022 For some moments of genuine serenity, hop behind the wheel of a ranger mobile and drive through herds of triceratops grazing out in the wilderness of Washington state. Wired Staff, Wired, 30 Dec. 2021 However, Big John does bear the wounds of a difficult life, with a laceration in his collar from an altercation with a smaller triceratops, which the auctioneers said was due to territorial defense or courtship of a mate. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, 1 Sep. 2021 The triceratops is known for its three horns on the head. NBC News, 21 Oct. 2021 Dino Hunters With winter looming, Clayton and Luke race to excavate two massive triceratops skulls, while the Harris-Bolan crew searches for a missing femur from their rare ceratopsian. Los Angeles Times, 3 Sep. 2021 According to auctioneers Binoche et Giquello, Big John is the world’s largest triceratops and stretches a whopping 26 feet from tip to tail. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 1 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'triceratops.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of triceratops

1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for triceratops

New Latin, from tri- + Greek kerat-, keras horn + ōps face — more at horn, eye

Learn More About triceratops

Time Traveler for triceratops

Time Traveler

The first known use of triceratops was in 1892

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near triceratops




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for triceratops

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Triceratops.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for triceratops


tri·​cer·​a·​tops | \ trī-ˈser-ə-ˌtäps How to pronounce triceratops (audio) \
plural triceratops

Kids Definition of triceratops

: a large plant-eating dinosaur with three horns, a large bony crest around the neck, and hoofed toes

More from Merriam-Webster on triceratops Encyclopedia article about triceratops


Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!