service animal


plural service animals
: a domesticated animal and usually a dog that is trained to perform a supportive function for its owner (such as guiding an owner who is blind or alerting an owner who is deaf to sounds)
A service animal is trained to assist a disabled person by performing specific tasks: They guide the blind, signal the hearing-impaired, pull wheelchairs and so on.Cecil Adams
Now, service animals help people with a variety of conditions, such as autism, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.Suzy Fleming Leonard
Michael was able to be retrained as a psychological service animal for Bessler, helping him deal with his traumatic brain injury.Alexandra Klausner

Note: Some government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) have official definitions of service animal that are more restrictive than the term's meaning in general English.

Word History

First Known Use

1988, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of service animal was in 1988

Dictionary Entries Near service animal

Cite this Entry

“Service animal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

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