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[am-fib-ee-uh n] /æmˈfɪb i ən/
any cold-blooded vertebrate of the class Amphibia, comprising frogs and toads, newts and salamanders, and caecilians, the larvae being typically aquatic, breathing by gills, and the adults being typically semiterrestrial, breathing by lungs and through the moist, glandular skin.
an amphibious plant.
an airplane designed for taking off from and landing on both land and water.
Also called amtrac. a flat-bottomed, armed, military vehicle, equipped with both tracks and a rudder, that can travel either on land or in water, used chiefly for landing assault troops.
belonging or pertaining to the Amphibia.
amphibious (def 2).
Origin of amphibian
1630-40; < Latin amphibi(a), neuter plural of amphibius (adj.) (see amphibious) + -an
Related forms
nonamphibian, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for amphibians


any cold-blooded vertebrate of the class Amphibia, typically living on land but breeding in water. Their aquatic larvae (tadpoles) undergo metamorphosis into the adult form. The class includes the newts and salamanders, frogs and toads, and caecilians
a type of aircraft able to land and take off from both water and land
any vehicle able to travel on both water and land
another word for amphibious
of, relating to, or belonging to the class Amphibia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for amphibians



1630s, "having two modes of existence, of doubtful nature," from Greek amphibia, neuter plural of amphibios "living a double life," from amphi- "of both kinds" (see amphi-) + bios "life" (see bio-).

Formerly used by zoologists to describe all sorts of combined natures (including otters and seals), the biological sense "class of animals between fishes and reptiles that live both on land and in water" and the noun derivative both are first recorded 1835. Amphibia was used in this sense from c.1600 and has been a zoological classification since c.1819.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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amphibians in Science
A cold-blooded, smooth-skinned vertebrate of the class Amphibia. Amphibians hatch as aquatic larvae with gills and, in most species, then undergo metamorphosis into four-legged terrestrial adults with lungs for breathing air. The eggs of amphibians are fertilized externally and lack an amnion. Amphibians evolved from lobe-finned fish during the late Devonian Period and include frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians.

Our Living Language  : Amphibians, not quite fish and not quite reptiles, were the first vertebrates to live on land. These cold-blooded animals spend their larval stage in water, breathing through their gills. In adulthood they usually live on land, using their lungs to breath air. This double life is also at the root of their name, amphibian, which, like many scientific words, derives from Greek. The Greek prefix amphi- means "both," or "double," and the Greek word bios means "life." Both these elements are widely used in English scientific terminology: bios, for example, is seen in such words as biology, antibiotic, and symbiotic.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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amphibians in Culture
amphibians [(am-fib-ee-uhnz)]

Vertebrate animals, such as frogs, that live part of their life cycle in the water and the other part on land.

Note: Amphibian is also used to describe things such as vehicles that can operate both on land and in the water.
Note: Amphibians were the first land-dwelling animals to evolve.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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