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 triceratopses (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

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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 In 2017, a fossilized triceratops skull was found at a construction site in Thornton, Colorado. Fox News, "Mysterious dinosaur remains discovered in Colorado are from an adult triceratops, experts confirm," 25 June 2019 The fossilized remains of a dinosaur that was discovered at a Colorado construction site last month have been identified as a triceratops. Fox News, "Mysterious dinosaur remains discovered in Colorado are from an adult triceratops, experts confirm," 25 June 2019 In 2017, horned dinosaur fossils were uncovered at Thornton, a Denver construction site, and were revealed to belong to a triceratops relative, the torosaurus. Erin Davis And Brian Ries, CNN, "Scientists say dinosaur fossils found in Colorado are those of a 68 million years old triceratops," 21 June 2019 No doubt that a triceratops would be quite the asset on the football field, but its hard to 'beat' our Giant Heart. Tom Avril,, "Super Bowl science: Philly, Boston museums talk trash on Twitter," 1 Feb. 2018 Two married couples do nocturnal battle over enough hard liquor to kill a triceratops in Edward Albee’s unhinged 1962 classic, the drawing-room play to end all drawing-room plays. Chicago Reader, "Hair, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and six more new stage shows to see now," 10 Aug. 2017 One sleeps with a stuffed triceratops, the other with a plush T. rex. Rachel Walker, idahostatesman, "A real Jurassic park lies underground at Wyoming Dinosaur Center," 12 May 2017 On the flight line perches a crazy-looking twin-fuselaged aircraft cradling a spaceship — the three sharp noses call to mind its nickname: Triceratops. Carl Hoffman, WIRED, "Virgin Galactic’s Space-Grazing Aircraft Is Ready for Liftoff," 15 Nov. 2009 On screen, Seo Hyun also spends a lot of time acting with Okja, a friendly C.G.I. creature with the temperament of a dog and the size of a growing triceratops. Yohana Desta,, "Okja Star An Seo Hyun Carries Netflix’s Next Prestige Film on Her Small Shoulders," 27 June 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for triceratops

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The first known use of triceratops was in 1892

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Cite this Entry

“Triceratops.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for triceratops


How to pronounce triceratops (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of triceratops

: a large dinosaur that had three horns on its head and that ate plants


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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with triceratops Encyclopedia article about triceratops

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