• synonyms


[man-uh-tee, man-uh-tee]
  1. any of several plant-eating aquatic mammals of the genus Trichechus, of West Indian, Floridian, and Gulf Coast waters, having two flippers in front and a broad, spoon-shaped tail: all species are endangered.
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Origin of manatee

1545–55; < Spanish manatí < Carib, but associated with Latin manātus provided with hands
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for manatee

Historical Examples

  • The manatee ranges from the mouth of the Amazon to the upper waters.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • The manatee feeds on the grass growing at the borders of the lakes and rivers.

  • You say that you first met Rufus Shepley aboard the Manatee?

    The Brand of Silence

    Harrington Strong

  • Squier and Davis, who first figured it, supposed it to represent a manatee, or sea-cow.

  • Isle of Batts, very large; and numerous Turtles and Manatee.

British Dictionary definitions for manatee


  1. any sirenian mammal of the genus Trichechus, occurring in tropical coastal waters of America, the Caribbean, and Africa: family Trichechidae. They resemble whales and have a prehensile upper lip and a broad flattened tail
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Derived Formsmanatoid, adjective

Word Origin

C16: via Spanish from Carib Manattouī
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 manatee


1550s, from Spanish manati (1530s), from Carib manati "breast, udder." Often associated with Latin manatus "having hands," because the flippers resemble hands.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper