Definition of caiman in English:


(also cayman)


  • A semiaquatic reptile similar to the alligator but with a heavily armoured belly, native to tropical America.

    • ‘A crocodilian is any member of an order of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gavials, and related extinct forms.’
    • ‘In fact, there are 23 species of alligators, crocodiles, and their kin, the caiman and gharials, and they are collectively all known as crocodilians.’
    • ‘The zoo here is now playing host to a pair each of seamy crocodiles, alligators and caimans, giving the city dwellers a glimpse of some rare species.’
    • ‘The continental record in South America, where caimans spent much of their history, is sporadic.’
    • ‘Jaguars may have been their most important predators, but some are probably killed by anacondas and caimans.’


Late 16th century: from Spanish caimán, Portuguese caimão, from Carib acayuman.