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[kahr-nuh-vawr, -vohr] /ˈkɑr nəˌvɔr, -ˌvoʊr/
an animal that eats flesh.
a flesh-eating mammal of the order Carnivora, comprising the dogs, cats, bears, seals, and weasels.
an insectivorous plant.
Origin of carnivore
1850-55; < Latin carnivorus carnivorous
Related forms
[kahr-niv-er-uh l] /kɑrˈnɪv ər əl/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for carnivores
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Again, the only carnivores to whom they seem to have supplied food were reptiles of their own race.

    The Story of Evolution Joseph McCabe
  • Of the carnivores only the cat and the dog are truly domesticated.

  • The kidneys are of course lobulate, as in the other aquatic carnivores.

  • He can not compete with carnivores in strength and ferocity, nor with herbivores in fleetness.

    Evolution Joseph Le Conte
  • Comments on the taxonomy and geographic distribution of some North American marsupials, insectivores, and carnivores.

  • Not the slightest deference is paid to the private opinions and sentiments of these carnivores by the vulgar crowd of sight-seers.

  • Of the class Mammalia there are two well-recognized and widely-distinct orders, viz., the carnivores and the Herbivores.

    Evolution Joseph Le Conte
  • In 4% the canines are very strongly developed, long, sharp, and curving inwardly as in carnivores.

    Criminal Man Gina Lombroso-Ferrero
British Dictionary definitions for carnivores


any placental mammal of the order Carnivora, typically having large pointed canine teeth and sharp molars and premolars, specialized for eating flesh. The order includes cats, dogs, bears, raccoons, hyenas, civets, and weasels
any other animal or any plant that feeds on animals
(informal) an aggressively ambitious person
Word Origin
C19: probably back formation from carnivorous
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for carnivores



"flesh-eating animal," 1839, from French carnivore (16c.), from Latin carnivorus "flesh-eating" (see carnivorous).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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carnivores in Science
    1. An animal that feeds chiefly on the flesh of other animals. Carnivores include predators such as lions and alligators, and scavengers such as hyenas and vultures. In a food chain, carnivores are either secondary or tertiary consumers. Compare detritivore, herbivore.

    2. Any of various generally meat-eating mammals of the order Carnivora. Carnivores have large, sharp canine teeth and large brains, and the musculoskeletal structure of their forelimbs permits great flexibility for springing at prey. Many carnivores remain in and defend a single territory. Dogs, cats, bears, weasels, raccoons, hyenas, and (according to some classifications) seals and walruses are all carnivores.

  1. A plant that eats insects, such as a Venus flytrap.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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carnivores in Culture
carnivore [(kahr-nuh-vawr)]

A living thing that eats meat. Among mammals, there is an order of carnivores, including primarily meat-eating animals such as tigers and dogs. Some plants, such as the Venus's-flytrap, are carnivores.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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