Meaning of pangolin in English:


Pronunciation /paŋˈɡə(ʊ)lɪn/


  • An African and Asian mammal that has a body covered with horny overlapping scales, a small head with an elongated snout, a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites, and a tapering tail.

    Also called scaly anteater

    Family Manidae and order Pholidota: genera Manis (three species in Asia) and Phataginus (four species in Africa)

    ‘In contrast with the Xenarthra, the Old World Pholidota is not trophically diverse and contains only the myrmecophagous pangolins, or scaly anteaters.’
    • ‘An alternative strategy can be seen in anteaters and pangolins: the tongue has lost most of its cranial attachments.’
    • ‘Like pangolins, aardvarks have a long, protrusile tongue and a gizzard-like stomach.’
    • ‘The soft stomach is one reason a pangolin has hard scales covering its body.’
    • ‘Anteaters, pangolins, and some armadillos use hook-and-pull digging with the enlarged claw of a single, enlarged manual digit to open termite or ant nests made of hard dirt.’
    • ‘In the echidna, anteaters, and pangolins, there are qualitative differences in tongue construction.’
    • ‘Beneath, pangolins lack scales but have a sparse coat of fur.’
    • ‘Alternatively they may climb trees in search of tree ants, as do the pangolins or scaly anteaters of the genus Manis.’
    • ‘In performance, the generic figures appear in groups to represent mainly dogs, pangolins, and antelopes.’
    • ‘Interpreting the extreme similarity in anteaters and pangolins remains problematic due to lingering disagreement among phylogenetic hypotheses.’


Late 18th century from Malay peng-guling, literally ‘roller’ (from its habit of rolling into a ball).