Definition of terrapin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɛrəpɪn/


1A freshwater turtle, especially one of the smaller kinds of the Old World. Called turtle in North America.
  • Emydidae and other families, order Chelonia: several genera and species, in particular the European pond terrapin.
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.
Image of terrapin
2 (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.
3 (Terrapin) British trademark A type of prefabricated one-storey building for temporary use.
Example sentences
  • For many years ‘Terrapins’ were manufactured under licence in several countries overseas.
  • Avis Ball, the school's headteacher, said: ‘We are very pleased to have replaced two of our old terrapin buildings with two bright and airy brick built classrooms which are attached to the main school.’


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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: terra|pin

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