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alligator

[al-i-gey-ter]
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noun
  1. either of two broad-snouted crocodilians of the genus Alligator, of the southeastern U.S. and eastern China.
  2. (loosely) any broad-snouted crocodilian, as a caiman.
  3. Metallurgy. a machine for bringing the balls of iron from a puddling furnace into compact form so that they can be handled.
  4. Jazz. an enthusiastic fan of swing.
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verb (used without object)
  1. (of paint, varnish, or the like) to crack and acquire the appearance of alligator hide, as from weathering or improper application to a surface.
  2. Metalworking. (of a rolled metal slab) to split and curl up and down at one end; fishmouth.
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Origin of alligator

1560–70; < Spanish el lagarto the lizard < Vulgar Latin *ille that + *lacartus, for Latin lacertus lizard
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for alligators

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It receives some brooks, and abounds in excellent fish, and in alligators.

    The History of Louisiana

    Le Page Du Pratz

  • We pushed and rolled him into the creek, and left the rest to the alligators.

    Victory

    Joseph Conrad

  • The Crocodiles and Alligators belong to that order of reptiles known as Crocodilia.

    Pathfinder

    Alan Douglas

  • Alligators were pretty scarce this trip, for some reason or other.

    A Jolly Fellowship

    Frank R. Stockton

  • But whether he could save her from the alligators she was not quite so certain.


British Dictionary definitions for alligators

alligator

noun
  1. a large crocodilian, Alligator mississipiensis, of the southern US, having powerful jaws and sharp teeth and differing from the crocodiles in having a shorter and broader snout: family Alligatoridae (alligators and caymans)
  2. a similar but smaller species, A. sinensis, occurring in China near the Yangtse River
  3. any crocodilian belonging to the family Alligatoridae
  4. any of various tools or machines having adjustable toothed jaws, used for gripping, crushing, or compacting
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Word Origin

C17: from Spanish el lagarto the lizard, from Latin lacerta
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 alligators

alligator

n.

1560s, lagarto (modern form attested from 1620s, with excrescent -r as in tater, feller, etc.), a corruption of Spanish el lagarto (de Indias) "the lizard (of the Indies)," from Latin lacertus (see lizard). Alligarter was an early variant. The slang meaning "non-playing devotee of swing music" is attested from 1936; the phrase see you later, alligator is from a 1956 song title.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper