from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A semiaquatic egg-laying mammal (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) of eastern Australia and Tasmania, having a broad flat tail, webbed feet, a snout resembling a duck's bill, and in the male, venomous spurs on the hind legs.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In entomology, a genus of xylophagous beetles of the family Scolytidæ: synonymous in part with Bostrychus.
  • noun In mammalogy: A genus of monotremes, now called Ornithorhynchus.
  • noun [lowercase] The species of this genus; the duckbilled platypus. See cut under duckbill.
  • noun In ornithology, a genus of sea-ducks of the family Anatidæ and the subfamily Fuligulinæ: synonymous with Fulix.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) The duck mole. See under duck.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An egg-laying, semi-aquatic mammal with a bill resembling that of a duck, that has a mole-like body, a tail resembling that of a beaver, a waterproof pelt, and flat webbed feet — males have poisonous spurs on the inside of the back legs; Ornithorhynchus anatinus

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

  • noun small densely furred aquatic monotreme of Australia and Tasmania having a broad bill and tail and webbed feet; only species in the family Ornithorhynchidae


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

[New Latin Platypūs, former genus name, from Greek platupous, flat-footed : platu-, platy- + pous, foot; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Medieval Latin Platypus (originally a genus name, but already used for a type of beetle), from Ancient Greek πλατύπους (platypous, "flat-footed"), from πλατύς (platys, "flat") + πούς (pous, "foot").


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  • "Jack, I cannot tell you how I long to see a platypus."

    "I remember you spoke of it last time we were there."

    "A damnable, a hellish last time it was too, upon my soul... New Holland is gravely in my debt."

    "Never mind. It will be much better this time. You shall watch great flights of platypuses at your leisure."

    "My dear, they are mammals, furry animals."

    "I thought you said they laid eggs."

    "So they do. That is what is so delightful. They also have bills like a duck."

    "No wonder you long to see one."

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 181

    March 7, 2008

  • See also ornithorhynchus—what a word—and water-mole.

    March 9, 2008

  • You may enjoy this then, chained_bear. :-)

    March 10, 2008

  • Another odd thing about this is that the ending is often pronounced with a full /-pʊs/. I wonder whether this is a relic of its coming from Greek -πους, or whether it's by association with the other furry animal name 'puss'.

    Oh, and Platypus is a genus of beetles. When they came to name the monotreme they gave it this genus name, but it was subsequently discovered the beetles have priority, so platypuses got reassigned to Ornithorhynchus.

    July 7, 2008

  • March 31, 2011

  • April 8, 2011

  • Pro, perhaps you'd enjoy a poem.

    April 16, 2011