Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

hippopotamus

play
noun hip·po·pot·a·mus \ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-məs\

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 hippopotamus

plural hip·po·pot·a·mus·es or hip·po·pot·a·miplay \-ˌmī, -(ˌ)mē\

  1. :  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

Illustration of hippopotamus

Origin of hippopotamus

Latin, from Greek hippopotamos, alteration of hippos potamios, literally, riverine horse


First Known Use: 1563

Other Mammals Terms



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up hippopotamus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet kittly-benders pince-nez spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ