Definition of alligator in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaləˌɡādər/


Image of alligator
1A large semiaquatic reptile similar to a crocodile but with a broader and shorter head, native to the Americas and China.
  • Genus Alligator, family Alligatoridae, order Crocodylia: the American alligator (A. mississippiensis) and the Chinese alligator (A. sinensis).
Example sentences
  • The zoo here is now playing host to a pair each of seamy crocodiles, alligators and caimans, giving the city dwellers a glimpse of some rare species.
  • Caiman belong to the group known as crocodilians, which also includes alligators and crocodiles.
  • Stunned parkgoers have even spotted the pythons in epic battles with native alligators.
1.1The skin of the alligator or material resembling it.
Example sentences
  • George can provide exotic skins too, like alligator, lizard, ostrich and even stingray.
  • In the dim light could be seen a black cowboy hat, a black trench coat, a pair of dirty blue jeans with alligator skin boots and a generous helping of ammo belts draped over his chest.
  • He wore dark blue pants and alligator skin boots, and a white shirt that had long puffy sleeves and purple embroidery on the cuffs.


Late 16th century: from Spanish el lagarto 'the lizard', probably based on Latin lacerta.

  • The English word alligator comes from two Spanish words el lagarto, ‘the lizard’. The first record of its use is from an account of his travels written by 16th-century English adventurer Job Hortop. He was press-ganged to sail to the Americas on a slaving voyage when he was only a teenager, and wrote vividly of the strange animals he encountered, among them the alligator.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: al·li·ga·tor

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