turtle

1 of 3

noun (1)

tur·​tle ˈtər-tᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
plural turtles also turtle
often attributive
: any of an order (Testudines synonym Chelonia) of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine reptiles that have a toothless horny beak and a shell of bony dermal plates usually covered with horny shields enclosing the trunk and into which the head, limbs, and tail usually may be withdrawn

turtle

2 of 3

noun (2)

turtle

3 of 3

noun (3)

archaic

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

modification of French tortue, from Late Latin (bestia) tartarucha, feminine of tartaruchus of Tartarus, from Greek tartarouchos, from Tartaros Tartarus; from Mithraic and early Christian association of the turtle with infernal forces

Noun (3)

Middle English turtil, turtle, going back to Old English turtle, turtla borrowed (with dissimilation, as also in Middle Dutch tortel "turtledove," Old High German turtul, turtila) from Latin turtur, of onomatopoeic origin

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1612, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1952, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of turtle was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near turtle

Cite this Entry

“Turtle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turtle. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

turtle 1 of 2

noun

tur·​tle ˈtərt-ᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
archaic

turtle

2 of 2

noun

plural turtles also turtle
: any of an order of land, freshwater, and marine reptiles with a toothless horny beak and a bony shell which encloses the body and into which the head, legs, and tail usually may be withdrawn

Medical Definition

turtle

noun

tur·​tle ˈtərt-ᵊl How to pronounce turtle (audio)
plural turtles also turtle
often attributive
: any of an order (Testudines) of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine reptiles that have a toothless horny beak and a shell of bony dermal plates usually covered with horny shields enclosing the trunk and into which the head, limbs, and tail usually may be withdrawn

called also chelonian

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