1. Either of two large semiaquatic reptiles, Alligator mississipiensis of the southeast United States or A. sinensis of China, having sharp teeth and powerful jaws. They differ from crocodiles in having a broader, shorter snout.
2. Leather made from the hide of one of these reptiles.
3. A tool or fastener having strong, adjustable, often toothed jaws.
[Alteration of Spanish el lagarto, the lizard : el, the (from Latin ille, that; see al-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + lagarto, lizard (from Latin lacertus).]
(click for a larger image)alligator
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.