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monk seal

noun
1.
a small, dark brown, subtropical seal of the genus Monachus: the three species, M. tropicalis of the Caribbean, M. schauinslandi of Hawaiian island regions, and M. monachus of the Mediterranean, are endangered.
Origin of monk seal
1835-1845
1835-45; apparently translation of the NL genus name Monachus (see monk), originally a specific name (Phoca monacha), probably in allusion to the animal's gray coloration and isolated breeding sites; compare French moine, Italian monaco the monk seal, literally, monk
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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