Definition of tortoise in US English:

tortoise

noun

  • 1A turtle, typically a herbivorous one that lives on land.

    • ‘In addition, males are smaller than are females in most Testudinidae, particularly among European tortoises.’
    • ‘The tortoises, marine iguanas and land iguanas on the Galapagos Islands, studied by Charles Darwin, provide some of the most striking examples.’
    • ‘Therefore, though not excluding the presence of intrasexual selection in tortoise mating system, it seems likely that females are the choosy sex.’
    • ‘Persistence and tenacity, not to say downright stubbornness, are qualities that all tortoise owners will recognize.’
    • ‘As the last two wives were passing, one of them stubbed her toe against the tortoise's shell and instantly let out a cry of pain.’
    • ‘But if no rains fall during the warm seasons and the tortoises don't get a chance to drink, they will enter hibernation dehydrated, malnourished, and with a bladder full of toxic waste.’
    • ‘The strength of a unique male bond between a young hippopotamus and a 130-year-old tortoise will be tested later this spring when conservation workers introduce a female hippo to the mix.’
    • ‘However, patterns of rainfall and tortoise reproduction are different in the Sonoran Desert.’
    • ‘Thankfully the fire crew didn't need to use their cutting equipment and managed to coax the tortoise out of his shell by poking around inside.’
    • ‘Currently, the group is in the midst of training dogs to find desert tortoise scat and hope to conduct testing this spring in Nevada.’
    • ‘I shot one sequence of a small female tortoise foiling a large male's mating attempts by quickly spinning around under his huge shell - a behavior I'd seen many times but never before captured.’
    • ‘The Iti National Park has wild goats, wild boars, deer, rodents, tortoises, reptiles, as well as an amazing variety of birds among which there are vultures, eagles, partridges, hoopoes, hawks, and owls.’
    • ‘A two-headed tortoise has come out of its shell in Dorset to find itself in the media spotlight.’
    • ‘Lizards, tortoises, salamanders and many other animals all move in this way, but it has disadvantages.’
    • ‘I held my breath as the dust cleared, and was relieved to see the tortoise lying fully retracted but unharmed.’
    • ‘But the tugging tides of conservatism outlast most swells of enthusiasm and a series of setbacks conspired to drive London's orchestras furtively back into their shells, like Galapagos tortoises in a hurricane.’
    • ‘I've been fascinated by tortoises and turtles for a long time and I collect tortoise / turtle knick-knacks and figurines.’
    • ‘Baby One Thousand, along with 64 tortoise brothers and sisters, is aboard, too, in a well-ventilated crate on deck.’
    • ‘A mammal such as a horse, that stands with its left and right feet close together, has to control transverse movements of its centre of mass much more precisely than a reptile such as a tortoise, that stands with its feet far apart.’
    • ‘But first, do you know the difference between a turtle and tortoise?’
    • ‘Once she lays and buries her eggs, the female desert tortoise is finished with her parental role.’
    • ‘Land tortoises are vegetarian, eating leaves, grass, and in some cases even cactus.’
    • ‘Hot on its heels is a seriously perturbed tortoise racing for the horizon in this Costa Rican forest.’
    • ‘This mechanism is consistent with G. agassizii's propensity to relax homeostasis and appears critical to desert tortoise survival and reproduction.’
    • ‘Here the King of the Jungle was a giant vegetarian tortoise, and there were no large predators of any kind.’
    • ‘Wild goats and pigs threaten the food supply of the magnificent Galapagos tortoises, and rats eat the eggs of birds and reptiles that have evolved without natural predators.’
    • ‘We'd stroke her feet and drum our fingers gently on her shell (the tortoise equivalent of a jockey's crop).’
    • ‘The origin of turtles and tortoises from ancestral reptiles is still unclear.’
    • ‘There the hippo immediately ran to Mzee, a 130-year-old Aldabran tortoise who resides at the Haller Park sanctuary.’
    • ‘But when 14-year-old Luke tried to tempt it out of its shell by feeding it lettuce, as common herbivorous tortoises are accustomed to eating, the creature snapped at his hand with such force he was lucky to escape with his fingers intact.’
    • ‘Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond.’
    • ‘The herbivorous reptiles and tortoises had thrived until the arrival of man - and the rats that stowed away on his ships - because there had been no large predatory, carnivorous mammals for them to contend with.’
    • ‘It was dropped by an eagle who was trying to crack open the tortoise's shell in order to eat it.’
    • ‘While desert predators, particularly ravens and coyotes, can't do much damage to adults, they can easily penetrate the shells of young tortoises.’
    • ‘A turtle lives in the water, a tortoise lives on land.’
    • ‘Our goal was to place G. berlandieri in the greater context of turtle and tortoise life history strategies.’
    • ‘The strange tortoise's shell is flat underneath and not rounded at the belly as usual, he says.’
    • ‘Other characters included two long-suffering frogs called Ernie and Sylve, an heroic tortoise called Lewis Collins and a little white shell called Jim Morrison.’
    • ‘For example, a tortoise is a herbivore and hibernates but a snake eats meat and needs to be kept warm all year.’
    • ‘He was sentenced to a total of two months, suspended for a year, and banned from keeping a pet shop, reptiles or tortoises for ten years.’
    1. 1.1informal Anything exceptionally slow-moving.
      ‘you are a tortoise on the uptake today’
      • ‘Normally the pavements were so crowded with prams and shopping trolleys and people stopping to chat, you had to walk in the road on the far side of parked cars if you wanted to progress at anything more than tortoise pace.’
  • 2

    another term for testudo
    • ‘The children are also learning to march like a tortoise as the Romans did, with shields at their side and on top.’
    • ‘It was also used by the Romans when they used what was known as a tortoise formation to move forward to a target that was well defended.’
    • ‘The testudo, the tortoise formation, involved raising the scutums into a shell.’
    • ‘Like the tortoise thing that the roman soldiers used to do…’

Origin

Late Middle English tortu, tortuce: from Old French tortue and Spanish tortuga, both from medieval Latin tortuca, of uncertain origin. The current spelling dates from the mid 16th century.

Pronunciation

tortoise

/ˈtôrdəs//ˈtɔrdəs/