either of two broad-snouted crocodilians of the genus alligator, of the southeastern u.s. and eastern china.
(loosely) any broad-snouted crocodilian, as a caiman.
metallurgy. a machine for bringing the b-lls of iron from a puddling furnace into compact form so that they can be handled.
jazz. an enthusiastic fan of swing.
(of paint, varnish, or the like) to crack and acquire the appearance of alligator hide, as from weathering or improper application to a surface.
metalworking. (of a rolled metal slab) to split and curl up and down at one end; fishmouth.
contemporary examples

from dolphins to alligators, view photos of the 11 animals most threatened by the spill.
drowning in oil the daily beast may 3, 2010

this is like telling a man wrestling four alligators not to ignore that 30-foot anaconda that just slipped into the pond.
will boehner play ball on syria? michael tomasky august 29, 2013

people swim into pool walls, people swim into each other, and, in certain parts of the u.s., people swim into alligators.
fireworks, lightning, riding lawnmowers and other summer menaces trevor b-tterworth july 8, 2013

in those days, cartoonist thomas nast portrayed bishops as alligators.
new york times’ gutter rhetoric: catholics launching an inquisition john leo march 8, 2012

one moment of weakness, and the alligators can eat you alive.
palin backs alligator taming senate candidate olivia nuzzi may 7, 2014

historical examples

there is no reason given why the alligators pool should be reputed holy, but in india places easily acquire sacred fame.
greater britain charles wentworth dilke

it receives some brooks, and abounds in excellent fish, and in alligators.
the history of louisiana le page du pratz

he amused us in the meantime by recounting some of his adventures with alligators.
the young llanero w.h.g. kingston

the crocodiles and alligators belong to that order of reptiles known as crocodilia.
pathfinder alan douglas

for a time no alligators were seen, though bunny looked eagerly for them.
bunny brown and his sister sue in the sunny south laura lee hope

a large crocodilian, alligator mississipiensis, of the southern us, having powerful jaws and sharp teeth and differing from the crocodiles in having a shorter and broader snout: family alligatoridae (alligators and caymans)
a similar but smaller species, a. sinensis, occurring in china near the yangtse river
any crocodilian belonging to the family alligatoridae
any of various tools or machines having adjustable toothed jaws, used for gripping, crushing, or compacting

1560s, lagarto (modern form attested from 1620s, with excrescent -r as in tater, feller, etc.), a corruption of spanish el lagarto (de indias) “the lizard (of the indies),” from latin lacertus (see lizard). alligarter was an early variant. the slang meaning “non-playing devotee of swing music” is attested from 1936; the phrase see you later, alligator is from a 1956 song t-tle.

related terms

up to one’s -ss in something


an -ssertively masculine, flashily dressed, and up-to-the-minute male; dude, sport (black)
an active devotee of swing and jive music, dancing, and speech (1930s+ jive talk) the salutation ”see you later, alligator” is common
a white jazz musician or jazz enthusiast (black jazz musicians)

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