Specifically things like chicken or most fish.

  • 2
    @Hugh What about viviparous animals like vipers or scorpions? Are they pregnant?
    – Mitch
    Aug 13, 2015 at 19:11
  • 3
    @AlainPannetierΦ that's the word for the animals themselves that give birth by eggs (and viviparous describing animals with live births), not the state of the animal right before the proto-animals are expelled. The latter is what the OP is looking for, i.e. the synonym of pregnant but when you're about to pop out some eggs rather than a live child.
    – Mitch
    Aug 13, 2015 at 19:17
  • 3
    What makes you think pregnant doesn’t work for anything but humans? The OED has this for pregnant: “That has conceived in the womb; with child or with young; gravid. Const. with, of (the offspring), by (the male parent).”
    – tchrist
    Aug 14, 2015 at 2:27
  • 2
    @tchrist while I'd have no problem calling a female giraffe, horse, cat etc. pregnant, I would hesitate before calling a hen pregnant.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 14, 2015 at 8:43
  • 16
    The real answer is preggnant, obviously.
    – CodeManX
    Aug 14, 2015 at 15:09

6 Answers 6





adjective: gravid


technical carrying eggs or young; pregnant. "the retroverted gravid uterus"

Oxford Dictionaries

  • 4
    "Technical" is right. I've watched a lot of documentaries and I've never heard this word (OTOH, or at least, did not comprehended it if I did).
    – Mazura
    Aug 13, 2015 at 23:19
  • 1
    It's one of those things you know or don't. I saw once saw a TV programme about the life cycle of the salmon and it was mentioned then! Aug 13, 2015 at 23:23
  • 4
    IIRC, Attenborough prefers 'laden with eggs' ;)
    – Mazura
    Aug 13, 2015 at 23:33
  • 8
    "Gravid" came instantly to mind when I saw this question. I think it's fairly well known and understood. (Probably avoided in documentaries, though, to keep the "grade level" of the language below some threshold.)
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 13, 2015 at 23:51
  • 8
    @tchrist - If you google flying crocodile you get results! c1.staticflickr.com/3/2449/4011866770_41729e0fb6_z.jpg?zz=1 ---> I'm not sure what that proves. ;-) Aug 14, 2015 at 12:06

in lay (entry 'lay' section phrases
(of a hen) laying eggs regularly.


Definition of gravid in English: adjective 1 technical Carrying eggs or young; pregnant: the retroverted gravid uterus


  • @Chasly, "gravid" beaten 'by a head.' Well done. Have you found the term for crocodiles? That has me flummoxed.
    – Hugh
    Aug 13, 2015 at 19:24
  • 1
    Try searching for "gravid crocodile" ---> reptilesofaustralia.com/crocs/johnstoni.htm#.VczwnV6FMuQ ---> second photo :-) Aug 13, 2015 at 19:32
  • (What does "spawn" have to do with anything?) Regarding "in lay" - Hugh are you sure that means what the OP asks? Doesn't it just mean "they are currently (as in "this month") producing eggs"? (So, when "in lay" then in that case from time to time (say, Mondays and Wednesdays from 4pm - 9pm) a given hen would be gravid, and other hours/days, would not be gravid.) It seems to be quite different from "gravid" (ie, "'pregnant' with an egg" at this moment).
    – Fattie
    Dec 13, 2015 at 16:26
  • @JoeBlow I think an egg takes more than a day to develop (apart from the shell) and so the hen is gravid with all the eggs, yolk and all in their egg-sacs, which are being developed.
    – Hugh
    Dec 14, 2015 at 0:24

From the oxford dictionary:

oviparous - producing young by means of eggs that are hatched after they have been laid by the parent

viviparous bringing forth live young that have developed inside the body of the parent

  • good words, next time include the definitions :)
    – Yeshe
    Aug 14, 2015 at 5:35
  • 12
    Although they're good words they don't actually answer the question. A species may be described as oviparous, but not as pregnant. An individual described as viviparous may not actually be expecting.
    – Chris H
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:11
  • 1
    IMO, a complete answer would begin with this information. Plus one; extremely relevant.
    – Mazura
    Aug 14, 2015 at 15:49
  • Compare as well with ovoviviparous! Fascinating! oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ovoviviparous
    – Dan
    Nov 1, 2015 at 13:23
  • As Chris points out, this answer is, very simply, completely wrong. I'm really sick of utterly incorrect answers being velocity upvoted on this site. It's amazingly tedious, and, frankly, stupid. Now that the poster knows this answer is totally wrong, click the delete button.
    – Fattie
    Dec 13, 2015 at 16:25

Although it doesn't especially refer to fish, birds, or the like, the French loanword enceinte is quite useful.

enceinte. (n.d.) Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. (2010). Retrieved August 18 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/enceinte

Its probable etymology from Latin incincta "ungirded" alludes to the gravid female's preparation for imminent parturition.


Gravid always works, for pregnant mammals,reptiles, birds, fish...any creature that bears young. It is well-understood by veterinarians and lay-people. It does not come with the "human-only" baggage that "pregnant" does.

  • 2
    This answer has already been given.
    – tchrist
    Aug 19, 2015 at 9:32
  • Still, so many other bad answers and comments were given, it's good that the correct answer was given again.
    – Fattie
    Dec 13, 2015 at 16:32

I endorse "gravid" since I've heard it used to indicate oviparous females with eggs. The implication is fertile eggs but they needn't be. Possessing eggs which have not yet been laid. Proper for any egg layer, be it a queen ant, octopus, blue-footed booby, alligator, shark (those that don't do live birth...) or platypus & echidna.

According to Merriam-Webster's site, from:

"Latin gravidus, from gravis heavy. First Known Use: 1597"

But note that this is after 100+ years after "pregnant":

"Middle English, from Latin praegnant-, praegnans carrying a fetus, alteration of praegnas, from prae- pre- + -gnas (akin to gignere to give birth to) — more at kin. First Known Use: 14th century".

There are plenty of synonyms - heavy, quick, big, with child. I remember reading that one of the common ones, "Expecting"? was a Victorian circumlocution, because pregnancy was too "bodily" for polite society. Overall, I think we're better off leaving that sort of thinking behind us. Aesthetically, I like "With child".

  • It's good that you endorse gravid, since a glance at a dictionary shows that is indeed the answer. BTW regarding your synonyms in the final paragraph, they do not apply at all to the "egg" case.
    – Fattie
    Dec 13, 2015 at 16:32

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