Definition of tarsier in English:



  • A small insectivorous, tree-dwelling, nocturnal primate with very large eyes, a long tufted tail, and very long hindlimbs, native to the islands of SE Asia.

    Family Tarsiidae and genus Tarsius, suborder Prosimii: four species

    • ‘Only in recent decades have prosimians - a suborder of primates that includes lemurs, lorises, bushbabies, and tarsiers - begun to be studied systematically.’
    • ‘Besides gibbons, singing primates include the Madagascan lemurs called indris, the tarsiers of Sulawesi, and the tiff monkeys of South America.’
    • ‘It could be a marsupial rat or mole or something opossumlike, or a rodent, insectivore, or even a primate akin to a tarsier or loris.’
    • ‘Primates including forest-dwelling ancestors of today's lemurs and tarsiers flourished in the trees.’
    • ‘Only one other primate, the tarsier, is known to include such a high proportion of animal prey in its diet.’


Late 18th century from French, from tarse ‘tarsus’, with reference to the animal's long tarsal bones.