from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various herbivorous aquatic mammals of the genus Trichechus, having paddlelike front flippers and a horizontally flattened tail and found in warm coastal waters of Florida, northern South America, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of several plant-eating marine mammals, of family Trichechidae, found in tropical regions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any species of Trichechus, a genus of sirenians; -- called also sea cow.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sea-cow; a gregarious herbivorous aquatic sirenian mammal, of the genus Manatus, family Manatidœ, and order Sirenia.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. sirenian mammal of tropical coastal waters of America; the flat tail is rounded


Spanish manatí, from Cariban manati·.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish manatí, from a Cariban language. (Wiktionary)



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  • At the Zoo on 19.5.39. Much interest in the manatee, which I had only vaguely heard of before. An animal about the size of a large seal, with broad tail behind & two flippers of some kind in front. The head is doglike, with small eyes, the surface of the body seems like that of an elephant, but is slimy from being in the water. Movement very sluggish. The peculiar feature is the mouth, which is fringed with large hairs & acts with a kind of sucking movement to draw food in. The creature is very tame & lets itself be touched. It appears that this is the only vegetarian water-mammal. Could not be sure whether it inhabits fresh or salt water or both.

    - George Orwell, diary entry, 21-5-39.

    May 25, 2009