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any of several burrowing, chiefly nocturnal mammals constituting the family Dasypodidae, ranging from the southern U.S. through South America, having strong claws and a jointed protective covering of bony plates: used in certain areas for food.
Contemporary Examples

How Alexander McQueen’s “armadillo boots” charmed Lady Gaga, Daphne Guinness, and Barbie.
Best Shoes Ever Rebecca Dana February 3, 2010

When you were doing the interview, David, were you aware of just how thick skinned, how armored, he was like an armadillo?
David Frost on Frost/Nixon The Daily Beast December 5, 2008

And, like a true critic, Menkes dwelled for a moment on the centerpiece of that collection, the infamous armadillo boot.
Inside Alexander McQueen’s Memorial Isabel Wilkinson September 19, 2010

Nicaragua: Nicaragua boasts not one, but two species of everyone’s favorite armored mammal, the armadillo.
Which Country Should Snowden Live In? Sarah Hedgecock July 6, 2013

Historical Examples

The armadillo is a native of South America, in which country there are several varieties.
Natural History in Anecdote Various

It is a curious fact that mosquitoes often inhabit the burrows of the armadillo.
The Western World W.H.G. Kingston

During the dessert it still appeared to linger about the armadillo.
Why Joan? Eleanor Mercein Kelly

“You never can get to this party,” said his friend, the armadillo.
Fairy Tales from Brazil Elsie Spicer Eells

South America is the home of a peculiar order of mammalia—of the edentata, to which belong the sloth, the armadillo, and the like.
The Theories of Darwin and Their Relation to Philosophy, Religion, and Morality Rudolf Schmid

The monkey, the goat, and the armadillo have all failed to give satisfaction.
Fairy Tales from Brazil Elsie Spicer Eells

noun (pl) -los
any edentate mammal of the family Dasypodidae of Central and South America and S North America, such as Priodontes giganteus (giant armadillo). They are burrowing animals, with peglike rootless teeth and a covering of strong horny plates over most of the body
fairy armadillo, another name for pichiciego

1570s, from Spanish armadillo, diminutive of armado “armored,” from Latin armatus, past participle of armare “to arm” (see arm (n.2)). So called for its hard, plated shell.


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