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)
: 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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Appearing part duck, part furry otter, and part beaver, the water-loving Australian platypus is more like a chimera, a mythological merging of three animals in one form. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 14 Nov. 2022 By zooming in close to these details, paleontologists were able to discern that multituberculates raised their young more like most modern mammals than marsupials or egg-layers like the platypus, according to a recent American Naturalist study. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Oct. 2022 The four-ounce layer is the platypus of run wear, resisting categories. Christopher Solomon, Outside Online, 26 Apr. 2022 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 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1799, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of platypus was in 1799

Dictionary Entries Near platypus

Cite this Entry

“Platypus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



platy·​pus ˈplat-i-pəs How to pronounce platypus (audio) -ˌpu̇s How to pronounce platypus (audio)
plural platypuses also platypi -ˌpī How to pronounce platypus (audio)
: a small water-dwelling egg-laying mammal of eastern Australia and Tasmania with a fleshy bill resembling that of a duck, webbed feet, and a broad flattened tail

More from Merriam-Webster on platypus

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