Definition of amphibian in English:



  • 1A cold-blooded vertebrate animal of a class that comprises the frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians. They are distinguished by having an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed (typically) by a terrestrial lung-breathing adult stage.

    Class Amphibia: orders Urodela (newts and salamanders), Anura (frogs and toads), and Gymnophiona (caecilians)

    • ‘Secondarily aquatic adult amphibians provide another source of diversity.’
    • ‘Spadefoot toads are desert-dwelling amphibians that breed opportunistically in short lived pools filled by periodic rainfall.’
    • ‘Young amphibians, like the larval frog or tadpole pictured here, spend their early years in the water, breathing through gills in the side of their head in much the same way as fish do.’
    • ‘Many other types of animals - both amphibians and reptiles - shared the Triassic world.’
    • ‘Among vertebrates, newts and other urodele amphibians show a remarkable capacity for regeneration.’
    1. 1.1 A seaplane, tank, or other vehicle that can operate on land and on water.
      • ‘Unfortunately for them, in December of 1941 the company was also given the go-ahead to develop an amphibian.’
      • ‘It says no other road-legal amphibian has managed to exceed 6mph on water.’


  • Relating to amphibians.

    ‘amphibian eggs’
    • ‘Perhaps 10 to 30 percent of Earth's mammal, bird, and amphibian species are facing extinction.’
    • ‘In addition to ecological studies investigating the timing of amphibian metamorphosis, a considerable amount of work has addressed the endocrine control of metamorphosis.’
    • ‘In dry years, such as the year of this study, ponds were dry by mid-June, invertebrate and amphibian larvae were unable to develop enough to metamorphose and emerge from the water.’
    • ‘One of the most urgent problems in conservation biology today is the continuing loss of amphibian populations on a global scale.’
    • ‘In both mammalian and amphibian eggs, integrins have been proposed as putative sperm receptors.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘having two modes of existence or of doubtful nature’): from modern Latin amphibium ‘an amphibian’, from Greek amphibion (noun use of amphibios ‘living both in water and on land’, from amphi ‘both’ + bios ‘life’).