Croc"o*dile [L. crocodilus, Gr. : cf. F. crocodile. Cf. Cookatrice.]
A large reptile of the genus Crocodilus, of several species. They grow to the length of sixteen or eighteen feet, and inhabit the large rivers of Africa, Asia, and America. The eggs, laid in the sand, are hatched by the sun's heat. The best known species is that of the Nile (C. vulgaris, or C. Niloticus). The Florida crocodile (C. Americanus) is much less common than the alligator and has longer jaws. The name is also sometimes applied to the species of other related genera, as the gavial and the alligator.
A fallacious dilemma, mythically supposed to have been first used by a crocodile.
Crocodile bird Zool., an African plover (Pluvianus aegypticus) which alights upon the crocodile and devours its insect parasites, even entering its open mouth (according to reliable writers) in pursuit of files, etc.; -- called also Nile bird. It is the trochilos of ancient writers. -- Crocodile tears, false or affected tears; hypocritical sorrow; -- derived from the fiction of old travelers, that crocodiles shed tears over their prey.
© Webster 1913.