[nawt-l-uh s, not-]

noun, plural nau·ti·lus·es, nau·ti·li [nawt-l-ahy, not-] /ˈnɔt lˌaɪ, ˈnɒt-/ for 1, 2.

Also called chambered nautilus, pearly nautilus. any cephalopod of the genus Nautilus, having a spiral, chambered shell with pearly septa.
(initial capital letter) the first nuclear-powered submarine launched by the U.S. Navy.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nautilus

Contemporary Examples of nautilus

Historical Examples of nautilus

  • The crew consisted of ten seamen from the Nautilus and the Constitution, all volunteers.

  • The "Nautilus," it will be remembered, was captured early in the war.

  • The Nautilus is not ours, and we have not the right to dispose of it.

    The Secret of the Island

    W.H.G. Kingston (translation from Jules Verne)

  • There is only one, and that is to get these two schooners safe alongside of the Nautilus.

    The Black Bar

    George Manville Fenn

  • Great was my delight, on getting it on board, to find that a nautilus had been caught.

    In the Eastern Seas

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for nautilus


noun plural -luses or -li (-ˌlaɪ)

any cephalopod mollusc of the genus Nautilus, esp the pearly nautilus
short for paper nautilus

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 nautilus

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper