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buf·​fa·​lo ˈbə-fə-ˌlō How to pronounce buffalo (audio)
plural buffalo or buffaloes also buffalos
often attributive
: any of several wild bovids: such as
: bison
especially : a large North American bison (Bison bison) that has a dense coat of dark brown fur with a shaggy mane on the head and lower neck, short hollow horns, and heavy forequarters with a large muscular hump over the shoulders and that formerly was abundant in North America but is now reduced to small populations of plains and prairies chiefly of the central U.S. and Canada : american bison compare european bison
: the flesh of the buffalo used as food
: any of several suckers (genus Ictiobus) found mostly in the Mississippi River valley

called also buffalo fish

Illustration of buffalo

Illustration of buffalo
  • buffalo 1c(1)


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buffaloed; buffaloing

Examples of buffalo in a Sentence

Verb I'm not some newcomer that you can buffalo with that nonsense. in this debate I refuse to be buffaloed by a flurry of irrelevant issues
Recent Examples on the Web
Though a solitary buffalo is another of Africa’s most dangerous animals, a large herd of them—which can number up to a thousand in South Luangwa—is another story. Alexandra Kirkman, Fortune, 6 Apr. 2024 Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania The Four Seasons resides inside the famous Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the Big Five (lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinoceroses) roam. Jennifer Kester, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 And Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is suffering from more frequent and severe drought conditions, which increase the risk of wildfire and put stress on the park’s buffaloes. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Mar. 2024 And scream Lewis wanted to, especially when Laurie shined a flashlight down at her and spotted a Cape buffalo 10-foot. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 12 Mar. 2024 Its bowl-like shape makes a natural border for the animals, boosting the chances safari goers will be able to spot all of the Big Five — lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo — during a tour. Claudia Fisher, Travel + Leisure, 2 Mar. 2024 The story of how tiny ants managed to push lions to kill more African buffalo shows how the arrival of an invasive species can affect multiple animals that seem to have no connections. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2024 The buffalo are larger than zebras and harder to kill, but the lions affected by the ant invasion appear to have switched their diets without much trouble; the lion population in this part of East Africa has not declined according to the researchers. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 25 Jan. 2024 Much of Turner's land is used as grazing land for over 50,000 head of buffalo – the largest private bison herd in the world. USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2024
Eva has the senior management in our company completely buffaloed. Anchorage Daily News, 18 Feb. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'buffalo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Italian bufalo & Spanish búfalo, from Late Latin bufalus, alteration of Latin bubalus, from Greek boubalos African gazelle

First Known Use


1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1891, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of buffalo was in 1562

Dictionary Entries Near buffalo

Cite this Entry

“Buffalo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/buffalo. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural buffalo or buffaloes
: any of several wild mammals related to oxen: as
: a large shaggy-maned North American mammal with short horns and heavy forequarters with a large muscular hump


from Italian bufalo and Spanish búfalo, both meaning "wild ox," from Latin bubalus, bufalus "wild ox, African gazelle," from Greek boubalos "African gazelle," probably from bous "ox, cow" — related to butter

Word Origin
The Greeks traveled over much of the ancient world, and Greek authors gave names to a number of unfamiliar animals. The African gazelle they called boubalos, apparently deriving part of the name from the Greek word bous, meaning "ox." Later the Romans borrowed this Greek word, which they used for "gazelle" and for "wild ox." In Latin the form was first bubalus and later bufalus. This Latin word for wild ox later passed into Italian as bufalo and into Spanish as búfalo. From these languages the English picked it up and gave it the spelling buffalo. When English settlers arrived in America, they gave the name buffalo to the big, shaggy animal that scientists prefer to call bison.

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Buf·​fa·​lo ˈbə-fə-ˌlō How to pronounce Buffalo (audio)
city and port on Lake Erie and the Niagara River in western New York population 261,310
Buffalonian noun

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