Definition of terrapin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈterəˌpin/


Image of terrapin
1 (also diamondback terrapin) US A small edible turtle with lozenge-shaped markings on its shell, found in coastal marshes of the eastern US.
  • Malaclemys terrapin, family Emydidae.
Example sentences
  • The northern diamondback terrapin, red fox, snapping turtle, raccoon, rabbit, skunk, opossum and blue crab, all animals that do well living close to people, have adapted nicely to the rapid changes of the Meadowlands.
  • ‘The diamondback terrapin became one of the most economically important reptiles in the world,’ said Lovich.
  • Crabs or fish or even a diamondback terrapin enters a trap to feed on the bait, can't get out, dies and becomes the bait that attracts more victims.
2A freshwater turtle, especially one of the smaller kinds of the Old World. Also called turtle.
  • Emydidae and other families, order Chelonia: several genera and species.
Example sentences
  • ‘There will be a demonstration on reptiles like snakes, terrapins, skinks and tortoises, that will look at how they adapt to the environment,’ says zoo educationist Imelda Matlala.
  • However, instead, they found a fresh water terrapin, a turtle-like creature normally kept as a pet.
  • Following the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in the late 1980s, thousands of children bought turtles and terrapins.


Early 17th century (denoting the diamondback terrapin): of Algonquian origin.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ter·ra·pin

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