1. (Science: zoology) Any one of numerous species of reptiles of the order testudinata.
The term is applied especially to the land and fresh water species, while the marine species are generally called turtles, but the terms tortoise and turtle are used synonymously by many writers. See testudinata, terrapin, and Turtle.
2. Same as testudo. Box tortoise, land tortoise, etc. See Box, Land, etc. Painted tortoise.
Any one of numerous species of small tortoise-shaped beetles. Many of them have a brilliant metallic luster. The larvae feed upon the leaves of various plants, and protect themselves beneath a mass of dried excrement held over the back by means of the caudal spines. The golden tortoise beetle (Cassida aurichalcea) is found on the morning-glory vine and allied plants. Tortoise plant.
(Science: botany) The hawkbill turtle. See Hawkbill.
Origin: OE. Tortuce, fr. OF. Tortis crooked, fr. L. Tortus isted, crooked, contorted, p.p. Of torquere, tortum, to wind; cf. F. Tortue tortoise, LL. Tortuca, tartuca, Pr. Tortesa crookedness, tortis crooked. So called in allusion to its crooked feet. See Torture.