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)
: 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 David Howe, owner of T-Rexplorers Dinosaur Discovery, presented fossils and items such as a triceratops vertebra. Karie Angell Luc, Chicago Tribune, 1 Feb. 2023 That layer captured the aftermath of an event 66 million years ago, when something caused a mass extinction, slaying 75 percent of the species on the planet, including T. rex and triceratops. Sarah Scoles, Discover Magazine, 27 July 2016 During this time, the ceratopsidae family had the greatest number of species, including the triceratops. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 17 July 2013 In it, one of his nephews petted the triceratops while the dinosaur chomped on Nalley’s lifeless arm. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2022 For all the triceratops and brachiosaurs wreaking havoc on civilization, though, the franchise’s greatest special effect remains Bryce Dallas Howard’s wig. Vulture, 14 Feb. 2022 The most complete triceratops skeleton yet found is shown here on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2013 That’s right — this is an Ice Age fossil site, and experts haven’t uncovered any remains of T. rexes, triceratops or other non-avian dinosaurs. Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 In June, while traveling through Arkansas with his nephews, Nalley spotted a triceratops statue at a roadside attraction. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2022

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1890, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of triceratops was in 1890

Dictionary Entries Near triceratops

Cite this Entry

“Triceratops.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


tri·​cer·​a·​tops (ˈ)trī-ˈser-ə-ˌtäps How to pronounce triceratops (audio)
: any of a genus of large plant-eating 4-footed Cretaceous dinosaurs with three horns, a bony hood or crest on the neck, and hoofed toes

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