noun, often attributive
buf·fa·lo | \ˈbə-fə-ˌlō \
plural buffalo or buffaloes also buffalos

Definition of buffalo 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : any of several wild bovids: such as

a : water buffalo

b : cape buffalo

c(1) : any of a genus (Bison) of bovids especially : a large shaggy-maned North American bovid (B. bison) that has short horns and heavy forequarters with a large muscular hump and that was formerly abundant on the central and western plains — compare wisent

(2) : the flesh of the buffalo used as food

2 : any of several suckers (genus Ictiobus) found mostly in the Mississippi River valley

called also buffalo fish


buffaloed; buffaloing

Definition of buffalo (Entry 2 of 3)


geographical name
Buf·fa·lo | \ˈbə-fə-ˌlō \

Definition of Buffalo (Entry 3 of 3)

city and port on Lake Erie and the Niagara River in western New York population 261,310

Illustration of buffalo

Illustration of buffalo


buffalo 1c(1)

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from buffalo

Geographical name

Buffalonian \ˌbə-fə-ˈlō-nē-ən \ noun

What is the origin of buffalo?

Greeks traveled much of the ancient world, and Greek authors gave names to many unfamiliar animals. The African gazelle they called boubalos. Later, the Romans borrowed this Greek word and used it for gazelle and for wild ox. In Latin the form was first bubalus and later bufalus. This Latin word for wild ox passed into Italian as bufalo and into Spanish as búfalo. From these languages, the English then picked up the word, spelling it buffalo, and when English settlers arrived in America, they gave the name to the big, shaggy animal that is also called bison.

Examples of buffalo in a Sentence


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: Noun

Meteors and collision avoidance YouTube has scores of dash cam videos documenting dangerous driving, dramatic rescues and lighter moments such as buffalo crossing the road. Rick Barrett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dash cams capture it all, from bad driving to road trip photos," 23 Feb. 2018 An Associated Press team that visited Gorongosa in April flew over the park in a helicopter, spotting hippos and crocodiles splashing in a floodplain, a herd of more than 100 buffalo and numerous waterbuck (a 2016 census counted more than 45,000). Christopher Torchia, Fox News, "African wild dogs make comeback at Mozambican wildlife park," 22 June 2018 An Associated Press team that visited Gorongosa in April flew over the park in a helicopter, spotting hippos and crocodiles splashing in a floodplain, a herd of more than 100 buffalo and numerous waterbuck (a 2016 census counted more than 45,000). Christopher Torchia, The Christian Science Monitor, "Underdogs no more: African wild dogs make comeback in Mozambique," 22 June 2018 Chip, the life-size fiberglass buffalo that has adorned the roof of Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse in Cave Creek for decades, survived the fire. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Ultimate Scottsdale, Arizona, bucket list: Top 25 things to do," 9 Feb. 2015 Leopards, even inexperienced ones, rarely stalk a buffalo herd, Mweetwa says. Kitson Jazynka, National Geographic, "Leopard and Buffalo 'Kiss' In Rare Moment Caught on Film," 15 May 2018 Tough and adaptable, the Longhorns migrated in the 1700s to what would later become Texas, Fowler said, surviving on primitive ranges, and then after the Civil War replaced the decimated buffalo on the Great Plains. Bruce Selcraig, San Antonio Express-News, "Rodeo’s Longhorns educating busloads of kids," 21 Feb. 2018 In the higher-energy band, the electrons are free, like the buffalo, to wander through the vast crystalline prairie. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Many rings, not one, create a laser to confound us all," 2 Feb. 2018 Always a thing of wonder, color can be as basic as rocks (ground up for pigment) or bovine urine — more specifically, urine from cows or buffaloes that have been fed exclusively on mango leaves. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "Coloring our world, from cave paintings to today," 15 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'buffalo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of buffalo


1562, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1891, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for buffalo


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

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Statistics for buffalo

Last Updated

21 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for buffalo

The first known use of buffalo was in 1562

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More Definitions for buffalo


buf·fa·lo | \ˈbə-fə-ˌlō \
plural buffalo or buffaloes

Kids Definition of buffalo

: any of several wild oxen and especially the American bison

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Comments on buffalo

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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