tu·​ni·​cate | \ ˈtü-ni-kət How to pronounce tunicate (audio) , ˈtyü-, -nə-ˌkāt\
variants: or less commonly tunicated \ ˈtü-​nə-​ˌkā-​təd How to pronounce tunicated (audio) , ˈtyü-​ \

Definition of tunicate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having or covered with a tunic or tunica
b : having, arranged in, or made up of concentric layers a tunicate flower bulb
2 : of or relating to the tunicates


tu·​ni·​cate | \ ˈtü-ni-kət How to pronounce tunicate (audio) , -nə-ˌkāt, ˈtyü-\

Definition of tunicate (Entry 2 of 2)

: any of a subphylum (Urochordata synonym Tunicata) of marine chordate animals (such as ascidians) that are filter feeders having a thick secreted covering layer, a greatly reduced nervous system, and only in the larval stage a notochord

Examples of tunicate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here’s the Deal with Those Slimy, Brain-Like Blobs Washing Ashore in Florida and the Carolinas Salps, like their relatives the sea pork, are part of a group called tunicates, are considered one of the most evolved of all marine invertebrates. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "The Tiny Clear Blobs Washing up on Beaches Are Even Weirder Than You Think," 25 June 2019 Moving between mid-water and the deep sea, Phillips and Gruber were able to handle a wide range of organisms, like a glass sponge, a sea cucumber, a branching coral, and even free-floating bioluminescent tunicates. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Soft Robotic Arm Is Built To Study the Ocean's Most Delicate Creatures," 3 Oct. 2018 Unlike other Odontonia species, however, O. plurellicola and O. bagginsi do not live in solitary tunicates; their sea squirts of choice live in colonies and are smaller than their solitary counterparts. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Introducing a Hairy-Footed Shrimp Named After Bilbo Baggins," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tunicate.' 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 tunicate


circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tunicate


Latin tunicatus, from tunica


New Latin Tunicata, from neuter plural of Latin tunicatus

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tunic flower



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The first known use of tunicate was circa 1623

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