Simple Definition of hippopotamus
: a large African animal that has an extremely large head and mouth and short legs and that spends most of its time in water
Full Definition of hippopotamusplural
hippopotamiplay \-ˌmī, -(ˌ)mē\
: a very large herbivorous 4-toed chiefly aquatic artiodactyl mammal (Hippopotamus amphibius) of sub-Saharan Africa with an extremely large head and mouth, bare and very thick grayish skin, and short legs; also : a smaller closely related mammal (Choeropsis liberiensis) of western Africa
Origin and Etymology of hippopotamus
Latin, from Greek hippopotamos, alteration of hippos potamios, literally, riverine horse
First Known Use: 1563
HIPPOPOTAMUS Defined for Kids
Definition of hippopotamus for Students
: a large African animal with thick hairless brownish gray skin, a big head, and short legs that eats plants and spends most of its time in rivers
History for hippopotamus
The bulky African mammal that spends its daytime hours sunk up to its eyes in a river owes its English name to the ancient Greeks. The historian Herodotus called the animal, which he may have seen in Egypt, ho hippos ho potamios, “the river horse.” Later Greek writers reduced this description to hippopotamos (which looks as if it should mean “horse river”). Despite its name, the hippopotamus is more closely related to hogs than horses.
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