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[tawr-tuh s] /ˈtɔr təs/
a turtle, especially a terrestrial turtle.
a very slow person or thing.
testudo (def 1).
Origin of tortoise
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tortoise
  • 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 hare.
  • 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.
  • In the fable, the tortoise wins the race because the hare takes a nap.
  • After all, there is no need to spend time wondering if the world sits on the back of an giant tortoise.
  • Right now, my vision of him seems to be that of a particularly eloquent tortoise keeping his neck safely within his shell.
  • The tortoise shells surrounded the remains of individuals who the scientists say were shamans.
  • Subsequently, the tortoise or some fleeting particle must always have extent to exist in any real sense.
  • tortoise minds are uniquely suited to tortoise environments.
British Dictionary definitions for tortoise


any herbivorous terrestrial chelonian reptile of the family Testudinidae, of most warm regions, having a heavy dome-shaped shell and clawed limbs related adjectives chelonian testudinal
water tortoise, another name for terrapin
a slow-moving person
another word for testudo See also giant tortoise
Word Origin
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 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 tortoise

1550s, altered (perhaps by influence of porpoise) from Middle English tortuse (late 15c.), tortuce (mid-15c.), tortuge (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin tortuca (mid-13c.), perhaps from Late Latin tartaruchus "of the underworld" (see turtle). Others propose a connection with Latin tortus "twisted," based on the shape of the feet. The classical Latin 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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tortoise in the Bible

(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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