Definition of reptile in English:



  • 1A vertebrate animal of a class that includes snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and tortoises. They are distinguished by having a dry scaly skin and typically laying soft-shelled eggs on land.

    • ‘The lectures offered include one about reptiles and amphibians native to Kentucky, which includes a chance for the children to handle live, non-venomous snakes, lizards, salamanders, toads and frogs.’
    • ‘It provides an important habitat for almost 400 species of migratory birds, 80 species of mammals, and 40 species of reptiles and amphibians.’
    • ‘An RSPCA dragnet of the area surrounding the pond failed to locate the beast, and the organisation warned locals to keep their eyes peeled for rogue reptiles.’
    • ‘‘A Molecular Phylogeny of Reptiles,’ published in 1999 in the journal Science, presents evidence that supports a re-ordering of the relationships among living reptiles.’
    • ‘Over 3,000 reptiles, birds and mammals live in the park in their natural habitats.’
    • ‘Instead of preying on the nocturnal rat, for instance, the diurnal mongoose turned its attention to native birds and reptiles, many of which appeared to decline in Caribbean and Hawaiian locales.’
    • ‘I thought it was just some cautionary warning about feeding reptiles.’
    • ‘Several hunts organized by the city government over the past months turned up empty-handed, apparently since cold-blooded reptiles are not very active during the chillier months.’
    • ‘He's really a wildlife photographer; to get his shots, he turns into an adventurer who has learned much about reptiles - snakes being his favorite cold-blooded creature.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a top-secret government agency that deals in the paranormal is hot on the tracks of the mysterious reptile sighted in the skies of California.’
    • ‘It is considered one of the world's most endangered reptiles, with fewer than 500 individuals living in three tiny islands off the coast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.’
    • ‘Sculptures depicting serpents, reptiles, fowl, and other animals were fashioned by Doyle from tree limbs and trunks, driftwood, and scrap pieces of lumber.’
    • ‘Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Far North Queensland takes the idea of a tourist facility for the viewing of native reptiles in their natural habitat to another level.’
    • ‘Anyone who wants to find out more about the giant reptiles should have a look here.’
    • ‘The Jurassic and Cretaceous together were the age of giant reptiles.’
    • ‘When gazed upon by so many strangers, some of the Snake men appeared to be more nervous, and did not handle the reptiles in the fearless manner which marked earlier performances.’
    • ‘More than 70 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of insects, spiders and scorpions have been recorded in the reserve.’
    • ‘On many occasions, Karen has observed a female hippo grooming a crocodile basking in the sun, licking the reptile's hide for up to 15 minutes, then ending the session with a huge open-mouth gape.’
    • ‘Stainton has helmed Irwin's cable exploits for years, and he understands the inherent drama and suspense in diddling with deadly snakes and toothy reptiles.’
    • ‘One of only two remaining alligator species in the world, this reptile has the dubious distinction of being the planet's most endangered species.’
  • 2informal A person regarded with loathing and contempt.


  • [attributive] Belonging to a reptile or to the class of reptiles.

    ‘reptile eggs’
    • ‘I note that skrimslis an Icelandic monster, chronicled in Fortean Times, possibly a sort of reptile living in lakes.’
    • ‘The reptile picture reminded me of Evan's room.’
    • ‘Picard also predicts that animal prints will overtake the popular reptile looks, and that metallic shades will gain prominence.’
    • ‘Only about 10% of reptile species in zoos have reproduced.’
    • ‘Visitors entered a run-down building in a downscale neighborhood to discover what appeared to be a decrepit, abandoned reptile zoo.’
    • ‘Ruthie and Winfield run in from the fields with reptile eggs.’
    • ‘I purchased this particular turtle because he didn't take his eyes off me the entire time I was in the reptile store.’
    • ‘I don't know what else it would be used for, but in herpetology it is used for incubating reptile eggs.’
    • ‘It reminded me of the ‘Arena’ episode, where Captain Kirk battled a fearsome guy in a reptile suit.’
    • ‘On the family tree of evolution, it dates back to the beginnings of reptile evolution in the Carboniferous era.’
    • ‘You can use the comments to place facilities like chairs, vending machines, toilet blocks and new displays like a reptile house.’
    • ‘If there were too much light she would naturally see the reptile slithering up and down the bell-pull, and make too correct an identification.’
    • ‘Experts speculate that the python could fight its way to the top of the food chain, ousting its native reptile adversary.’
    • ‘The simplified naturalism of marine and reptile masks and their widespread distribution make it difficult to determine their origin.’
    • ‘There was also a problem with illegal imports from Thailand into the United States, including ivory jewelry, sea turtle products, leopard and tiger parts and products, and a large variety of reptile products.’
    • ‘The reptile population ranges from a variety of venomous and harmless snakes to the endangered blue-tongued lizard and the goanna, a monitor lizard that grows to 8 feet.’
    • ‘He has remade a whole small shop building in King's Cross into an imaginary reptile house, except there aren't any reptiles in the museum cases!’


Late Middle English: from late Latin, neuter of reptilis, from Latin rept- crawled from the verb repere.