• synonyms


[nawt-l-uh s, not-]
noun, plural nau·ti·lus·es, nau·ti·li [nawt-l-ahy, not-] /ˈnɔt lˌaɪ, ˈnɒt-/ for 1, 2.
  1. Also called chambered nautilus, pearly nautilus. any cephalopod of the genus Nautilus, having a spiral, chambered shell with pearly septa.
  2. paper nautilus.
  3. (initial capital letter) the first nuclear-powered submarine launched by the U.S. Navy.
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Origin of nautilus

1595–1605; < Latin < Greek nautílos paper nautilus, literally, sailor, derivative of naûs ship; the webbed dorsal arms of the paper nautilus were thought to have been used as sails
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nautili

Historical Examples of nautili

  • Their siphon is small, and in the form of the stri of growth they resemble Nautili.

    A Manual of Elementary Geology

    Charles Lyell.

  • The nautili live in rather shallow water usually creeping over the bottom feeding on small marine animals.

  • As far back as the Silurian we find the giant Orthoceratites contemporary with Nautili, very like those of the present ocean.

  • The shell is very different from those of the other nautili in being much more deeply indented with circular striae.

  • Nautili have a like range, and the shell of the liassic Loligo is similar to that of the “squid” of our own seas.

British Dictionary definitions for nautili


noun plural -luses or -li (-ˌlaɪ)
  1. any cephalopod mollusc of the genus Nautilus, esp the pearly nautilus
  2. short for paper nautilus
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Word Origin for nautilus

C17: via Latin from Greek nautilos sailor, from naus ship
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 nautili



marine cephalopod, c.1600, from Latin nautilus, in Pliny a kind of marine snail (including also squid, cuttlefish, polyps, etc.), from Greek nautilos "paper nautilus," literally "sailor," from nautes "sailor," from naus "ship" (see naval). The cephalopod formerly was thought to use its webbed arms as sails.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper