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Syllabification: tor·toise
Pronunciation: /ˈtôrdəs

Definition of tortoise in English:


1A turtle, typically a herbivorous one that lives on land.
Example sentences
  • The origin of turtles and tortoises from ancestral reptiles is still unclear.
  • The strength of a unique male bond between a young hippopotamus and a 130-year-old tortoise will be tested later this spring when conservation workers introduce a female hippo to the mix.
  • I shot one sequence of a small female tortoise foiling a large male's mating attempts by quickly spinning around under his huge shell - a behavior I'd seen many times but never before captured.
1.1 informal Anything exceptionally slow-moving: you are a tortoise on the uptake today
More example sentences
  • Normally the pavements were so crowded with prams and shopping trolleys and people stopping to chat, you had to walk in the road on the far side of parked cars if you wanted to progress at anything more than tortoise pace.
2 another term for testudo.
Example sentences
  • It was also used by the Romans when they used what was known as a tortoise formation to move forward to a target that was well defended.
  • The children are also learning to march like a tortoise as the Romans did, with shields at their side and on top.
  • The testudo, the tortoise formation, involved raising the scutums into a shell.


late Middle English tortu, tortuce: from Old French tortue and Spanish tortuga, both from medieval Latin tortuca, of uncertain origin. The current spelling dates from the mid 16th century.



adjective& adverb
Example sentences
  • The enigmatic Eunotosaurus africanus is characterized by a semi-rigid, turtle-like rib cage, one which presumably necessitated a tortoise-like fashion of walking.
  • The action two weeks ago was the first time since the mid-1980s that effective mass secondary strike action has taken place, wrong-footing the employers and also, sadly, the tortoise-like structures of our own official trade unionism.
  • And he spent so much time with his tongue up Bush's bottom that he forgot to attend to the delectable Cherie, so that her tortoise-like face now appears everywhere, desperately craving the attention so sadly denied her by darling Tony.

Definition of tortoise in:

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