AskDefine | Define lizard

Dictionary Definition



1 relatively long-bodied reptile with usually two pairs of legs and a tapering tail
2 a man who idles about in the lounges of hotels and bars in search of women who would support him [syn: lounge lizard]

User Contributed Dictionary



From lusard, from lesard (feminine laisarde, French: lézard), from lacertus.


  • a UK /ˈlɪz.əɹd/, /"lIz.@rd/


  1. Any reptiles of the order Squamata, usually having four legs, external ear openings, movable eyelids and a long slender body and tail.
  2. Lizard skin, the skin of these reptiles.
    • 1990 October 28, Paul Simon, “Proof”, The Rhythm of the Saints, Warner Bros.
      Silver bells jingling from your black lizard boots, my baby / Silver foil to trim your wedding gown
  3. An unctuous person.
  4. A coward.

Related terms


Unctuous person

Extensive Definition

Lizards are a large and widespread group of reptiles of the order Squamata, with nearly 5,000 species and ranging across all continents except Antarctica. Most lizards have four limbs, external ears, a long tail, and are insectivores. Many can shed their tails in order to escape from predators, though this trait is not universal. Vision, including color vision, is particularly well developed in lizards, and most communicate with body language or bright colors on their bodies as well as via pheromones. The adult length of species within the order range from a few centimeters (some Caribbean geckos) to nearly three meters (Komodo Dragons), though most species are less than a 0.5 lbs (220 grams).


Any generic description of lizards is often complicated by the fact that many typical lizard traits are either retentions from their evolutionary ancestors (such as the basic, 4-limbed, tetrapod body form) or are either lost or changed in some species (loss of limbs, loss of external ears, loss of the tail, etc.) Lizards are reptiles, and universally possess scaly skin and a skull with many fused or reduced bones. Most lizards retain the typical tetrapod body plan of a short neck, four limbs of roughly equal size ending in five toes each, a moderately long body, and a long tail. Most lizards possess external ears and have movable eyelids. Encompassing forty families, there is tremendous variety in colour, appearance and size. Most lizards are oviparous, though a few species are viviparous. Many are also capable of regeneration of lost limbs or tails. Almost all lizards are carnivorous, though most are so small that insects are their primary prey, however a few species are omnivorous or herbivorous, and others have reached sizes where they can prey on other vertebrates. Many lizards are good climbers or fast sprinters. Some can run bipedally, such as the collared lizard and some can even run across the surface of water to escape, namely the basilisk. Many lizards can change colour in response to their environments or in times of stress. The most familiar example is the chameleon, but more subtle colour changes occur in other lizard species as well such as the anole, also known as the "American chameleon," "house chameleon" or "chamele".
Some lizard species, including the glass lizard and flap-footed lizards, have lost their legs or reduced them to the point they are non-functional. However, some vestigial structures remain. Snakes, which evolved from the ancestors of monitor lizards, are characterized by lack of eyelids, lack of an external ear, a forked tongue, and having a highly elongate body (as opposed to a normal body but extremely long tail). While any given legless lizard species (of which there are many) may match on one or two of these characteristics, they invariably differ from snakes in others. For example, flap-footed lizards lack eyelids as do true snakes, but can be distinguished by their external ears.
Lizards are part of the reptile family meaning that they have no inner means of achieving homeostatis. As a result they must keep careful watch of their body temperature. This need requires lizards to live in areas with consistently high temperatures. Lizards are rarely seen in the upper half of the United States and most European countries.

Senses and communication

Lizards employ many diverse methods of communication. Like many other animals, they have an acute sense of smell, detecting scents of their prey or pheromones from other lizards. The primary organ of scent in lizards is a vomeronasal organ in the roof of the mouth, and lizards gather scents by flicking out their tongues, then retracting them and delivering the captured odor molecules to this organ. Some large carnivorous lizards, such as tegus and monitor lizards, have forked tongues like snakes, to take advantage of this organ better. As a result, many male lizards possess enlarged pores on the underside of their thighs, which they rub against objects to mark their territory.
While most lizards can hear well, few are capable of vocalizations or otherwise making noise. The exception to this rule is the geckos, which communicate through a wide variety of barks, chirps and whistles, with each species having specific patterns and sounds.

Relationship to humans

Most lizard species are harmless to humans. Only the very largest lizard species pose threat of death; the Komodo dragon, for example, has been known to stalk, attack, and kill humans. The venom of the Gila monster and beaded lizard is not usually deadly but they can inflict extremely painful bites due to powerful jaws. The chief impact of lizards on humans is positive as they are significant predators of pest species; numerous species are prominent in the pet trade; some are eaten as food (for example, Green Iguanas in Central America); and lizard symbology plays important, though rarely predominant roles in some cultures (e.g. Tarrotarro in Australian mythology). The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted lizards in their art. The Indian Monitor lizard (GOH) was used by tribals to climb clifs.


'''Suborder Lacertilia (Sauria) - (Lizards)


  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of North America
  • Simon & Schuster's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World
  • Reptiles & Amphibians
  • A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern/Central North America
  • Reptiles of the World: The Crocodilians, Lizards, Snakes, Turtles and Tortoises of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres
  • The World of Venomous Animals
  • Their Blood Runs Cold: Adventures With Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Exotic Pets
lizard in Arabic: سحلية
lizard in Guarani: Teju
lizard in Catalan: Lacertili
lizard in Chuvash: Калта
lizard in Czech: Ještěři
lizard in Welsh: Madfall
lizard in German: Echsen
lizard in Navajo: Na’ashǫ́’ii
lizard in Modern Greek (1453-): Σαύρα
lizard in Spanish: Lacertilia
lizard in Esperanto: Lacertuloj
lizard in Basque: Musker
lizard in French: Sauria
lizard in Galician: Lagarto
lizard in Korean: 도마뱀
lizard in Croatian: Gušteri
lizard in Indonesian: Kadal
lizard in Ossetian: Гæккуыритæ
lizard in Icelandic: Eðlur
lizard in Italian: Lacertilia
lizard in Hebrew: לטאות
lizard in Javanese: Kadhal
lizard in Latin: Lacertilia
lizard in Lithuanian: Driežai
lizard in Limburgan: Herdisse
lizard in Hungarian: Gyíkok
lizard in Macedonian: Гуштер
lizard in Min Dong Chinese: Dô-dâing
lizard in Dutch: Hagedissen
lizard in Dutch Low Saxon: Evertasken
lizard in Japanese: トカゲ
lizard in Norwegian: Øgle
lizard in Norwegian Nynorsk: Øgle
lizard in Polish: Jaszczurki
lizard in Portuguese: Lagartos
lizard in Romanian: Şopârlă
lizard in Quechua: Qaraywa
lizard in Russian: Ящерицы
lizard in Simple English: Lizard
lizard in Serbian: Гуштер
lizard in Finnish: Liskot
lizard in Swedish: Ödlor
lizard in Thai: กิ้งก่า
lizard in Cherokee: ᏗᎦᎭᎵ
lizard in Ukrainian: Ящірки
lizard in Chinese: 蜥蜴
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