- A large carnivorous amphibian found in the swamps and rivers of the southern USA and the Yangtze river in China. The meat, especially the tail meat, is eaten during the hunting season and is a speciality of Cajun cuisine.
Origin & History of “alligator”
The Spanish, on encountering the alligator in America, called it el lagarto ‘the lizard’. At first English adopted simply the noun (‘In this river we killed a monstrous Lagarto or Crocodile’, Job Hortop, The trauailes of an Englishman 1568), but before the end of the 16th century the Spanish definite article el had been misanalysed as part of the noun – hence, alligator. Spanish lagarto derived from Latin lacerta ‘lizard’, which, via Old French lesard, gave English lizard.