platy·​pus | \ ˈpla-ti-pəs How to pronounce platypus (audio) , -ˌpu̇s How to pronounce platypus (audio) \
plural platypuses also platypi\ ˈpla-​ti-​ˌpī How to pronounce platypus (audio) , -​ˌpē \

Definition of platypus

: a small carnivorous aquatic monotreme mammal (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) of eastern Australia and Tasmania that has a fleshy bill resembling that of a duck, dense fur, webbed feet, and a broad flattened tail

called also duck-billed platypus

Illustration of platypus

Illustration of platypus

Examples of platypus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The authors of the study specifically looked at two platypus specimens kept at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and one specimen kept at the University of Nebraska State Museum. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Nov. 2020 Some people see a platypus, some people see a frog, and some people see this strange human. Luke Leitch, Vogue, 13 Apr. 2021 The scientists think Orretherium tzen cohabited with Magallanodon baikashkenke, which was thought to have been an evolutionary step between a platypus or marsupial, and dinosaurs such as the long-necked titanosaur. NBC News, 9 Apr. 2021 The springhare — whose coat glows a patchy pinkish-orange under UV light — joins the platypus and other mammals with this perplexing trait. New York Times, 18 Feb. 2021 Two centuries later, the platypus continues to astound scientists. Animals, 30 Dec. 2020 The platypus’s native predators include big fish such as Murray cod, birds of prey and dingos. National Geographic, 11 Nov. 2020 The assessment echoes troubling findings reported earlier this year, which projected that the platypus population could decline between 47 and 66 percent by 2070. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Nov. 2020 As noted in the journal Mammalia, shining an ultraviolet light on a platypus makes the animal’s fur fluoresce with a greenish-blue tint. Cara Giaimo New York Times, Star Tribune, 21 Nov. 2020

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

1799, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for platypus

New Latin, from Greek platypous flat-footed, from platys broad, flat + pous foot — more at place, foot

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Time Traveler for platypus

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The first known use of platypus was in 1799

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Cite this Entry

“Platypus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for platypus



English Language Learners Definition of platypus

: a small animal from Australia that has a bill like the bill of a duck, webbed feet, and a wide flat tail


platy·​pus | \ ˈpla-ti-pəs How to pronounce platypus (audio) \

Kids Definition of platypus

: a small water-dwelling mammal of Australia that lays eggs and has webbed feet, dense fur, and a bill that resembles that of a duck

More from Merriam-Webster on platypus

Nglish: Translation of platypus for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about platypus


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