an·​kus | \ ˈaŋkəs, ˈəŋkəsh \
variants: or less commonly ankusha \ ˈəŋkəshə \
plural ankus also ankusha or ankuses also ankushas

Definition of ankus

: an elephant goad used in India having a sharp spike and hook and resembling a short-handled boat hook

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of ankus

1823, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ankus

Hindi aṅkus, from Sanskrit aṅkuśa; akin to Sanskrit aṅka bend, hook

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ankus

Time Traveler for ankus

Time Traveler

The first known use of ankus was in 1823

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ankus

Cite this Entry

“Ankus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Comments on ankus

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!