Definition of reptile in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrɛptʌɪl/


1A vertebrate animal of a class that includes snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and tortoises. They are distinguished by having a dry scaly skin and typically laying soft-shelled eggs on land.
  • Class Reptilia: orders Chelonia (turtles and tortoises), Squamata (snakes and lizards), Rhynchocephalia (the tuatara), and Crocodylia (crocodilians). Modern reptiles are cold-blooded, though among extinct groups, including dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and ichthyosaurs, some may have been warm-blooded.
Example sentences
  • He's really a wildlife photographer; to get his shots, he turns into an adventurer who has learned much about reptiles - snakes being his favorite cold-blooded creature.
  • Stainton has helmed Irwin's cable exploits for years, and he understands the inherent drama and suspense in diddling with deadly snakes and toothy reptiles.
  • Several hunts organized by the city government over the past months turned up empty-handed, apparently since cold-blooded reptiles are not very active during the chillier months.
2 informal A person regarded with loathing and contempt: are you contradicting me, you ignorant little reptile?


Belonging to a reptile or to the class of reptiles: reptile eggs
More example sentences
  • Ruthie and Winfield run in from the fields with reptile eggs.
  • I don't know what else it would be used for, but in herpetology it is used for incubating reptile eggs.
  • The simplified naturalism of marine and reptile masks and their widespread distribution make it difficult to determine their origin.


Late Middle English: from late Latin, neuter of reptilis, from Latin rept- 'crawled', from the verb repere.

  • A mention of reptiles today conjures up a picture of snakes and lizards, but in the 14th century the word included other creatures. It comes from Latin repere ‘to crawl’ and was originally used for any creeping or crawling animal. The first use of reptile as an insulting term for a person is found in Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749) ‘For a little reptile of a critic to presume to find fault with any of its parts…is a most presumptuous absurdity.’

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rep|tile

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