- a large, primarily nocturnal, lizardlike reptile, Sphenodon punctatum, of islands near the coast of New Zealand: the only surviving rhynchocephalian.
Also tu·a·te·ra [too-uh-tair-uh] /ˌtu əˈtɛər ə/.
Origin of tuatara
1810–20; < Maori, equivalent to tua dorsal + tara spine
Also called sphenodon.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for tuatera
They were actually remotely related to the tuatera lizard of New Zealand, and still more remotely to the true lizards.Dinosaurs
William Diller Matthew
- a greenish-grey lizard-like rhynchocephalian reptile, Sphenodon punctatus, occurring only on certain small islands near New Zealand: it is the sole surviving member of a group common in Mesozoic times
C19: from Māori, from tua back + tara spine
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 tuatera
New Zealand lizard, 1890, from Maori, from tua "on the back" + tara "spine."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper