[ pang-guh-lin, pang-goh- ]
/ ˈpæŋ gə lɪn, pæŋˈgoʊ- /


any mammal of the order Pholidota, of Africa and tropical Asia, having a covering of broad, overlapping, horny scales and feeding on ants and termites.

Origin of pangolin

1765–75; < Malay pengguling (dial. or bazaar Malay name for the animal) one who rolls up, equivalent to peng- agentive prefix + guling roll up or around; so called from its habit of curling into a ball when threatened
Also called scaly anteater. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pangolin

  • Lastly, the pangolin (Manis) is represented by two species in the eastern Himalaya.

  • In their belts they carried several knives, while the musket and the little round cap of pangolin skin completed their equipment.

    The Great White Queen|William Le Queux
  • This ant-eater is known as the “pangolin,” or “manis,” but there are several species of “pangolin” not African.

    The Bush Boys|Captain Mayne Reid

British Dictionary definitions for pangolin


/ (pæŋˈɡəʊlɪn) /


any mammal of the order Pholidota found in tropical Africa, S Asia, and Indonesia, having a body covered with overlapping horny scales and a long snout specialized for feeding on ants and termitesAlso called: scaly anteater

Word Origin for pangolin

C18: from Malay peng-gōling, from gōling to roll over; from its ability to roll into a ball
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 pangolin



1774, "scaly toothless mammal of Java," from Malay peng-goling "roller," from its habit of curling into a ball; from peng- (denominative prefix) + goling "to roll." Later extended to related species in Asia and Africa.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper