One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A semiaquatic reptile similar to the alligator but with a heavily armored belly, native to tropical America.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Jaguars may have been their most important predators, but some are probably killed by anacondas and caimans.’
- ‘A crocodilian is any member of an order of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, gavials, and related extinct forms.’
- ‘The continental record in South America, where caimans spent much of their history, is sporadic.’
Late 16th century: from Spanish caimán, Portuguese caimão, from Carib acayuman.
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