am·​phib·​i·​an am-ˈfi-bē-ən How to pronounce amphibian (audio)
: an amphibious organism
especially : any of a class (Amphibia) of cold-blooded vertebrates (such as frogs, toads, or salamanders) intermediate in many characters between fish and reptiles and having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing adults
Unlike reptiles, most amphibians possess a smooth, moist skin and lay their shell-less eggs in water or wet places. Jeffrey P. Cohn
: an amphibious vehicle
especially : an airplane designed to take off from and land on either land or water
amphibian adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web And Prince Naveen has also been turned into an amphibian by an evil force! Good Housekeeping, 9 Jan. 2023 The amphibian is one of the largest toads found in north America, measuring up to 7 inches, according to the Facebook post. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 6 Nov. 2022 The artificial amphibian could be a better ambassador for science, its proponents say, giving even those leery of the dissection table an introduction to the biological world. Nancy Averett, Discover Magazine, 27 Jan. 2020 The amphibian is at risk of extinction mainly due to the approval and commencement of geothermal development, but other threats include groundwater pumping, agriculture, climate change, chytrid fungus, disease and predation from invasive bullfrogs. Julia Musto, Fox News, 3 Dec. 2022 The process is largely the same at the three facilities: before breeding begins, the zoos perform health checks on each amphibian. Dallas News, 2 May 2022 However, Pfennig and his co-workers did previously work on a completely different cannibalism-triggering stimulus in another amphibian. Bill Schutt, Discover Magazine, 3 Jan. 2019 Fifty of the species were turtles, with tuataras (a kind of reptile found in New Zealand), caecilians (a limbless amphibian), and the South American lungfish rounding out the group. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 13 Nov. 2022 Posted to TikTok on Thursday, the clip shows videographer Lucas Peterson touching and feeding a huge amphibian named Dumpy. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 9 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


New Latin Amphibia, taxon including frogs and salamanders (from neuter plural of amphibius amphibious) + -an entry 1

Note: As a taxon Amphibia was used as a class name already by linnaeus (Systema naturae, 10. editio, 1758, p. 196 et passim), but in a sense that included both amphibians and some reptiles. Limitation of the taxon to approximately its current meaning dates from Thomas Gray's "A Synopsis of the Genera of Reptiles and Amphibia" (Annals of Philosophy, new series vol. 10, July-December, 1825, pp.193-217) according to Darrel R. Frost, et al., "The Amphibian Tree of Life," Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, No. 297 (2006), p. 355. The use of both English amphibian and Latin amphibius with varying gender and number to refer to animals living on both land and sea (and in figurative senses) can be found much earlier.

First Known Use

1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of amphibian was in 1749

Dictionary Entries Near amphibian

Cite this Entry

“Amphibian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


am·​phib·​i·​an am-ˈfib-ē-ən How to pronounce amphibian (audio)
: any organism that is able to live both on land and in water
especially : any of a class of cold-blooded vertebrate animals (as frogs and salamanders) that in many respects are between fishes and reptiles
: an airplane designed to take off from and land on either land or water
amphibian adjective
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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