Anteater – Definition & Meaning

Anteaters are fascinating creatures that belong to the order Pilosa, which also includes sloths. These animals are known for their long snouts and tongues, which they use to eat ants and termites. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of anteaters, as well as their origin, associations, and synonyms.


An anteater is a mammal that feeds on ants and termites. It has a long snout, a slender body, and a bushy tail. Anteaters are native to Central and South America and are known for their unique feeding habits.


Anteaters evolved around 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene epoch. The earliest known anteaters were small, arboreal animals that lived in trees. Over time, they adapted to a ground-dwelling lifestyle and developed their characteristic long snouts and tongues.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an anteater is “a mammal of the order Edentata that feeds on ants and termites, having a long snout and a sticky tongue.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “a toothless mammal of tropical America that feeds chiefly on ants and termites and is related to the armadillos.”


Anteaters are often associated with the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, where they are found. They are also associated with the insect world, as they feed primarily on ants and termites.


Synonyms for anteater include:

  • Antbear.
  • Aardvark.
  • Tamandua.
  • Myrmecophaga.


As anteaters are a specific type of animal, there are no true antonyms for the word. However, some antonyms for the concept of an animal that feeds on insects might include:

  • Carnivore.
  • Herbivore.
  • Omnivore.

The same root words

The word “anteater” is a compound word made up of “ante-” meaning “before” and “ater” meaning “water.” However, the word “anteater” does not have any direct relation to water.

Example Sentences

  • The anteater’s long tongue can extend up to two feet in length.
  • Anteaters are able to consume up to 30,000 ants and termites in a single day.
  • The tamandua is a smaller species of anteater that is found in Central and South America.
  • The aardvark, which is found in Africa, is often mistaken for an anteater due to its similar appearance and feeding habits.
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