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caiman

or cayman

[key-muh n] /ˈkeɪ mən/
noun, plural caimans.
1.
any of several tropical American crocodilians of the genus Caiman and allied genera: some are endangered.
Origin of caiman
1570-1580
1570-80; < Spanish caimán < Carib
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for caiman
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is another means which the Indians use to capture the caiman.

    Reptiles and Birds Louis Figuier
  • Peters (1954:10) refuted Gadow's record on the basis that Gadow's collections contained no specimens of caiman.

  • This family embraces three genera, readily distinguishable by osteological characters—Alligator, caiman, and Jacare.

  • The jaguar, with his pliable paws and sharp subtle claws, is to them a more dreaded assailant than the crocodile or caiman.

    The Forest Exiles Mayne Reid
  • There are natives who dare dive for the caiman and rip it up.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • Neither tortoise nor caiman paid any attention to their presence, but fought on pertinaciously.

    The Forest Exiles Mayne Reid
  • No doubt the caiman had been attempting to plunder the new-laid eggs of the tortoise, and the latter had detected him in the act.

    The Forest Exiles Mayne Reid
  • Many children of poor negro women become a prey to the caiman in this locality.

    Reptiles and Birds Louis Figuier
British Dictionary definitions for caiman

caiman

/ˈkeɪmən/
noun (pl) -mans
1.
a variant spelling of cayman
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 caiman
n.

also cayman, 1570s, from Portuguese or Spanish caiman, from Carib acayouman "crocodile," or perhaps from a Congo African word applied to the reptiles in the new world by African slaves. "The name appears to be one of those like anaconda and bom, boma, which the Portuguese or Spaniards very early caught up in one part of the world, and naturalized in another." [OED]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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