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  1. any of several mammals of the family Myrmecophagidae, having a long, tapered snout, extensile tongue, and powerful front claws and feeding chiefly on ants and termites.Compare giant anteater, silky anteater, tamandua.
  2. the aardvark.
  3. a pangolin.
  4. an echidna.
  5. banded anteater.

Origin of anteater

First recorded in 1755–65; ant + eater
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for anteater


  1. any toothless edentate mammal of the family Myrmecophagidae of Central and South America, esp Myrmecophaga tridactyla (or jubata) (giant anteater), having a long tubular snout used for eating termitesSee also tamandua
  2. scaly anteater another name for pangolin
  3. spiny anteater another name for echidna
  4. banded anteater another name for numbat
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

Word Origin and History for anteater


also ant-eater, 1764, in reference to the South American species; 1868 of the Australian echidna; from ant + agent noun from eat (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper