Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various terrestrial turtles, especially one of the family Testudinidae, characteristically having thick clublike hind limbs and a high, rounded carapace.
  • n. Chiefly British A terrestrial or freshwater chelonian.
  • n. One that moves slowly; a laggard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various land-dwelling reptiles, of family Testudinidae, whose body is enclosed in a shell (carapace plus plastron). The animal can withdraw its head and four legs partially into the shell, providing some protection from predators.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of numerous species of reptiles of the order Testudinata.
  • n. Same as Testudo, 2.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An American nymphalid butterfly, Eugonia j-album: more fully called the Compton tortoise.
  • n. Same as tortoise-beetle.
  • n. A turtle; any chelonian or testudinate; a member of the order Chelonia or Testudinata (see the technical terms).
  • n. A movable roof formerly used to protect the soldiers who worked a battering-ram.

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

  • n. usually herbivorous land turtles having clawed elephant-like limbs; worldwide in arid area except Australia and Antarctica

Etymologies

Alteration (influenced by porpoise) of Middle English tortuce, from Medieval Latin tortūca, alteration of Late Latin tartarūcha, feminine of tartarūchus, of the underworld; see turtle1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English tortuse, tortuce, tortuge, from Medieval Latin tortuca, possibly from Late Latin tartarūcha, from Late Latin tartarūchus ("of Tartarus"), from Ancient Greek ταρταροῦχος (tartarouchos, "from Tartaros, Tartarus, the land of the dead in ancient stories"), because it used to be thought that tortoises and turtles came from the underworld; or from Latin tortus ("twisted"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • When you put a tortoise on the front of a Formula One car, at what speed does it shut its eyes?

    May 8, 2009