Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a cat or other member of the cat family

connected with cats or other members of the cat family

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The adjective feline comes from the Latin adjective ‘felinus’, from cat, ‘feles’. It was first used in the 17th century, with the noun coming into use two centuries later.


Last Saturday was International Cat Day, a celebration of all things feline initiated in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Although domestic cats are our most familiar felines, the family (Latin name Felidae) includes almost 40 species, ranging from cheetahs, leopards and lynxes to our own moggies. The latest update of Macmillan Dictionary added a number of new entries for breeds of domestic cat, from Abyssinian cat to Turkish Van.  If you are a fan of felines you can explore these entries here. The adjective feline, in addition to meaning ‘connected with cats’, also means ‘having the graceful looks or movements of a cat’.


Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
(T.S. Eliot, Macavity the Mystery Cat)

He moves with a kind of feline grace, and it’s clear from the outset that the skinny kid doesn’t stand a chance against him.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Related words

bovine, canine, leonine, porcine

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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