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endangered species

1. Literally, a species that is in danger of becoming extinct. Once an endangered species, these majestic creatures have made a great comeback with the help of preservation efforts.
2. By extension, something that is already very rare or could soon become rare. I worry that this type of work will soon be an endangered species if funding keeps getting cut.
See also: endanger, species
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

endangered species

A group threatened with extinction or destruction. For example, Workers willing to put in overtime without extra pay are an endangered species, or With the new budget cuts, public television has become an endangered species. This expression, originally referring to species of plants or animals in danger of dying out, began in the 1980s to be extended to anything or anyone becoming rare.
See also: endanger, species
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

an endangered species

If you describe something as an endangered species, you mean that there are not many of them left. Business class is in danger of becoming an endangered species, except on long flights. Bassoons, oboes and the big brass instruments are endangered species because children do not want to play them. Note: This expression comes from the literal meaning of a plant or animal that is likely to die out soon.
See also: endanger, species
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
* Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov): Background information, glossary, poster, and endangered species coloring books are a few of the available materials.
A collaborative effort of the Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System and the Endangered Species program, this special issue of the Endangered Species Bulletin looks at Refuge System activities on behalf of several endangered species, from Indiana bats to ocelots in Texas.
The Service's Arkansas Field Office celebrated Endangered Species Day May 9 and 10 at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, in partnership with ECO, a non-profit conservation organization.
Even brainwashed legislators would be unlikely to impose direct taxes to knee-cap the economy, but they go along with the activists and regulators who would use the Endangered Species Act to do this indirectly.
A law called the Endangered Species Act (ESA) also helped.
A father and son had claimed that they'd shot this endangered species (member of a group of organisms in danger of dying out) as it was charging at them.
By 1994, goldenseal was endangered in sixteen of the 22 states in its natural range.
"We just thought it fit the Endangered Species Act as well as some of the other species that have been listed," Gardner says.
It is one of many animals and plants that went extinct while the federal government delayed endangered species protections, according to a report recently released by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Bush officials stated, 'Giving Americans access to endangered animals would feed the gigantic US demand for live animals, skins, parts and trophies, and generate profits that would allow poor nations to pay for conservation of the remaining animals and their habitat."
Military lands provide habitat for more than 300 species that must be protected under the Endangered Species Act and many other species that may become endangered.
One of the more challenging regulations that many winegrape growers must deal with, or try to avoid, is the Endangered Species Act.
There's a rescue helicopter, but it doesn't actually land on the roof of the hospital for the world's most endangered plants.
Endangered animals, which have long fallen victim to the lucrative Chinese trade in rare species for medical and culinary use, may are also prime suspects as incubators of deadly, new human pandemics.