noun, plural ar·ma·dil·los.

any of several burrowing, chiefly nocturnal mammals constituting the family Dasypodidae, ranging from the southern U.S. through South America, having strong claws and a jointed protective covering of bony plates: used in certain areas for food.

Origin of armadillo

1570–80; < Spanish, equivalent to armad(o) armed (< Latin armātus; see arm2, -ate1) + -illo < Latin -illus diminutive suffix Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for armadillo

sloth, aardvark, armadillo, anteater

Examples from the Web for armadillo

Contemporary Examples of armadillo

  • Nicaragua: Nicaragua boasts not one, but two species of everyone's favorite armored mammal, the armadillo.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Which Country Should Snowden Live In?

    Sarah Hedgecock

    July 7, 2013

  • And, like a true critic, Menkes dwelled for a moment on the centerpiece of that collection, the infamous Armadillo boot.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Inside Alexander McQueen's Memorial

    Isabel Wilkinson

    September 20, 2010

  • How Alexander McQueen's "armadillo boots" charmed Lady Gaga, Daphne Guinness, and Barbie.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Best Shoes Ever

    Rebecca Dana

    February 4, 2010

  • When you were doing the interview, David, were you aware of just how thick skinned, how armored, he was like an armadillo?

    The Daily Beast logo
    David Frost on Frost/Nixon

    The Daily Beast

    December 6, 2008

Historical Examples of armadillo

  • It is a curious fact that mosquitoes often inhabit the burrows of the armadillo.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • When he finds no mosquitoes, he is sure there is no armadillo.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • "Let the one who got you in there help you out," replied the armadillo as he went on his way.

    Fairy Tales from Brazil

    Elsie Spicer Eells

  • The armadillo had not heard of any danger, but he replied that it had passed.

    Fairy Tales from Brazil

    Elsie Spicer Eells

  • The monkey, the goat, and the armadillo have all failed to give satisfaction.

    Fairy Tales from Brazil

    Elsie Spicer Eells

British Dictionary definitions for armadillo


noun plural -los

any edentate mammal of the family Dasypodidae of Central and South America and S North America, such as Priodontes giganteus (giant armadillo). They are burrowing animals, with peglike rootless teeth and a covering of strong horny plates over most of the body
fairy armadillo another name for pichiciego

Word Origin for armadillo

C16: from Spanish, diminutive of armado armed (man), from Latin armātus armed; compare armada
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 armadillo

1570s, from Spanish armadillo, diminutive of armado "armored," from Latin armatus, past participle of armare "to arm" (see arm (n.2)). So called for its hard, plated shell.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper