a turtle, especially a terrestrial turtle.
a very slow person or thing.
testudo ( def 1 ).

1350–1400; variant of earlier (15th-century) tortuse, tortose, tortuce, Middle English tortuca < Medieval Latin tortūca, for Late Latin tartarūcha (feminine adj.) of Tartarus (< Greek tartaroûcha), the tortoise being regarded as an infernal animal; Medieval Latin form influenced by Latin tortus crooked, twisted (see tort) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tortoise (ˈtɔːtəs)
1.  any herbivorous terrestrial chelonian reptile of the family Testudinidae, of most warm regions, having a heavy dome-shaped shell and clawed limbsRelated: chelonian, testudinal
2.  water tortoise another name for terrapin
3.  a slow-moving person
4.  another word for testudo See also giant tortoise
Related: chelonian, testudinal
[C15: probably from Old French tortue (influenced by Latin tortus twisted), from Medieval Latin tortūca, from Late Latin tartarūcha coming from Tartarus, from Greek tartaroukhos; referring to the belief that the tortoise originated in the underworld]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1550s, altered (perhaps by infl. of porpoise) from M.E. tortuse (late 15c.), tortuce (mid-15c.), tortuge (late 14c.), from M.L. tortuca (mid-13c.), perhaps from L.L. tartaruchus "of the underworld" (see turtle). Others propose a connection with L. tortus "twisted," based
on the shape of the feet. The classical L. word was testudo, from testa "shell." First record of tortoise shell as a coloring pattern is from 1782.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Tortoise definition

(Heb. tsabh). Ranked among the unclean animals (Lev. 11:29). Land tortoises are common in Syria. The LXX. renders the word by "land crocodile." The word, however, more probably denotes a lizard, called by the modern Arabs _dhabb_.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
The desert tortoise was declared an endangered species today because it is
  threatened by a respiratory disease.
Cheating in sports might be as old as the race between the tortoise and the
Red-footed tortoises in the wild live a typically lonely tortoise life, without
  even being cared for by their parents.
It seems to be the tortoise that always wins the race.
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