Let's Compare Tortoise and Turtle


Tortoises (, Testudinidae) are a family of land-dwelling reptiles in the order Testudines. Like their marine relatives, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell.

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

32 Moby Thesaurus words for "tortoise": alligator, crocodile, crocodilian, dawdle, dawdler, dinosaur, drone, foot-dragger, gator, goldbrick, goof-off, laggard, lie-abed, lingerer, lizard, loiterer, plodder, procrastinator, reptile, reptilian, saurian, sleepyhead, slow goer, slow-foot, slowbelly, slowpoke, slug, sluggard, snail, stick-in-the-mud, terrapin, turtle

Tortoise \Tor"toise\, n. [OE. tortuce, fr. OF. tortis crooked, fr. L. tortus twisted, crooked, contorted, p. p. of torquere, tortum, to wind; cf. F. tortue tortoise, LL. tortuca, tartuca, Pr. tortesa crookedness, tortis crooked. so called in allusion to its crooked feet. See {Torture}.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) Any one of numerous species of reptiles of the order {Testudinata}. [1913 Webster] Note: The term is applied especially to the land and fresh-water species, while the marine species are generally called turtles, but the terms tortoise and turtle are used synonymously by many writers. See {Testudinata}, {Terrapin}, and {Turtle}. [1913 Webster] 2. (Rom. Antiq.) Same as {Testudo}, 2. [1913 Webster] {Box tortoise}, {Land tortoise}, etc. See under {Box}, {Land}, etc. {Painted tortoise}. (Zo["o]l.) See {Painted turtle}, under {Painted}. {Soft-shell tortoise}. (Zo["o]l.) See {Trionyx}. {Spotted tortoise}. (Zo["o]l.) A small American fresh-water tortoise ({Chelopus guttatus} or {Nanemys guttatus}) having a blackish carapace on which are scattered round yellow spots. {Tortoise beetle} (Zo["o]l.), any one of numerous species of small tortoise-shaped beetles. Many of them have a brilliant metallic luster. The larv[ae] feed upon the leaves of various plants, and protect themselves beneath a mass of dried excrement held over the back by means of the caudal spines. The golden tortoise beetle ({Cassida aurichalcea}) is found on the morning-glory vine and allied plants. {Tortoise plant}. (Bot.) See {Elephant's foot}, under {Elephant}. {Tortoise shell}, the substance of the shell or horny plates of several species of sea turtles, especially of the hawkbill turtle. It is used in inlaying and in the manufacture of various ornamental articles. {Tortoise-shell butterfly} (Zo["o]l.), any one of several species of handsomely colored butterflies of the genus {Aglais}, as {Aglais Milberti}, and {Aglais urtic[ae]}, both of which, in the larva state, feed upon nettles. {Tortoise-shell turtle} (Zo["o]l.), the hawkbill turtle. See {Hawkbill}. [1913 Webster]

Tortoise (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_.

TORTOISE, n. A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso: TO MY PET TORTOISE My friend, you are not graceful -- not at all; Your gait's between a stagger and a sprawl. Nor are you beautiful: your head's a snake's To look at, and I do not doubt it aches. As to your feet, they'd make an angel weep. 'Tis true you take them in whene'er you sleep. No, you're not pretty, but you have, I own, A certain firmness -- mostly you're [sic] backbone. Firmness and strength (you have a giant's thews) Are virtues that the great know how to use -- I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole, You lack -- excuse my mentioning it -- Soul. So, to be candid, unreserved and true, I'd rather you were I than I were you. Perhaps, however, in a time to be, When Man's extinct, a better world may see Your progeny in power and control, Due to the genesis and growth of Soul. So I salute you as a reptile grand Predestined to regenerate the land. Father of Possibilities, O deign To accept the homage of a dying reign! In the far region of the unforeknown I dream a tortoise upon every throne. I see an Emperor his head withdraw Into his carapace for fear of Law; A King who carries something else than fat, Howe'er acceptably he carries that; A President not strenuously bent On punishment of audible dissent -- Who never shot (it were a vain attack) An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back; Subject and citizens that feel no need To make the March of Mind a wild stampede; All progress slow, contemplative, sedate, And "Take your time" the word, in Church and State. O Tortoise, 'tis a happy, happy dream, My glorious testudinous regime! I wish in Eden you'd brought this about By slouching in and chasing Adam out.


Turtles are reptiles of the order Chelonii or Testudines characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield.

turtle n : any of various aquatic and land reptiles having a bony shell and flipper-like limbs for swimming v 1: overturn accidentally; "Don't rock the boat or it will capsize!" [syn: {capsize}, {turn turtle}] 2: hunt for turtles, especially as an occupation

Turtle \Tur"tle\, n. [Probably the same word as the word preceding, and substituted (probably by sailors) for the Spanish or Portuguese name; cf. Sp. tortuga tortoise, turtle, Pg. tartaruga, also F. tortue, and E. tortoise.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo["o]l.) Any one of the numerous species of Testudinata, especially a sea turtle, or chelonian. [1913 Webster] Note: In the United States the land and fresh-water tortoises are also called turtles. [1913 Webster] 2. (Printing) The curved plate in which the form is held in a type-revolving cylinder press. [1913 Webster] {Alligator turtle}, {Box turtle}, etc. See under {Alligator}, {Box}, etc. {green turtle} (Zo["o]l.), a marine turtle of the genus {Chelonia}, having usually a smooth greenish or olive-colored shell. It is highly valued for the delicacy of its flesh, which is used especially for turtle soup. Two distinct species or varieties are known; one of which ({Chelonia Midas}) inhabits the warm part of the Atlantic Ocean, and sometimes weighs eight hundred pounds or more; the other ({Chelonia virgata}) inhabits the Pacific Ocean. Both species are similar in habits and feed principally on seaweed and other marine plants, especially the turtle grass. {Turtle cowrie} (Zo["o]l.), a large, handsome cowrie ({Cypr[ae]a testudinaria}); the turtle-shell; so called because of its fancied resemblance to a tortoise in color and form. {Turtle grass} (Bot.), a marine plant ({Thalassia testudinum}) with grasslike leaves, common about the West Indies. {Turtle shell}, tortoise shell. See under {Tortoise}. [1913 Webster]

Turtle \Tur"tle\, n. [AS. turtle, L. turtur; probably of imitative origin. Cf. {Turtle} the sea tortoise.] (Zo["o]l.) The turtledove. [1913 Webster]

Data Sources:

  • tortoise: WordNet (r) 2.0
  • tortoise: Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0
  • tortoise: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44
  • tortoise: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
  • tortoise: THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY ((C)1911 Released April 15 1993)
  • turtle: WordNet (r) 2.0
  • turtle: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44
  • turtle: The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44

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