hip·​po·​pot·​a·​mus | \ ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-məs How to pronounce hippopotamus (audio) \
plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami\ ˌhi-​pə-​ˈpä-​tə-​ˌmī How to pronounce hippopotami (audio) , -​(ˌ)mē \

Definition of hippopotamus

: any of a family (Hippopotamidae) of very large, four-toed, chiefly aquatic, herbivorous artiodactyl mammals having a very large head and mouth, nearly hairless thick grayish skin, long lower canine teeth, and relatively short legs, and including two living species:
a : one (Hippopotamus amphibius) of sub-Saharan Africa that has webbing between the toes, spends most of the day in or near water, and typically weighs between 3 to 4 tons (2700 to 3600 kilograms)

Illustration of hippopotamus

Illustration of hippopotamus

Examples of hippopotamus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For ages 24 months and up, this inflatable hippopotamus pool comes equipped with a wading area and a mini slide. Naveen Kumar, CNN Underscored, "How to turn your backyard into a water park this summer," 29 June 2020 There’s also a long hallucination involving a hippopotamus. Dave Eggers, The New Yorker, "Rediscovering One of the Wittiest Books Ever Written," 2 June 2020 Among those seeking refuge were herds of hippopotamuses. Popular Science, "Twelve powerful images to remind us how weird and wild the world is," 13 May 2020 In the coronavirus heartbreak category: The San Antonio Zoo is having to cancel the birthday parties of two of its most beloved animal denizens, Lucky the Elephant and Timothy the hippopotamus. Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, ExpressNews.com, "The New Normal: Cash to provide relief from COVID-19 is on the way!," 26 Mar. 2020 The big takeaway Hippos don’t lie: Seventeen years after Pablo Escobar was killed, the Colombian drug king’s four pet hippopotamuses have multiplied in South America. National Geographic, "Why is protecting butterflies so dangerous?," 6 Feb. 2020 Raul Arboleda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images When Pablo Escobar died in 1993, the Colombian drug kingpin’s four adult African hippopotamuses were forgotten. Asher Elbein, New York Times, "Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Fill a Hole Left Since Ice Age Extinctions," 26 Mar. 2020 Occasionally a hippopotamus will appear on the local soccer pitch to graze. Washington Post, "Colombians grapple with a big problem: wandering hippos," 23 Feb. 2020 The woman was short and svelte with dark eyes, and the guy was tall, bald, and heavyish, and looked like a hippopotamus. Matthew Klam, The New Yorker, "The Liver," 9 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hippopotamus.' 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 hippopotamus

1542, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hippopotamus

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

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Time Traveler for hippopotamus

Time Traveler

The first known use of hippopotamus was in 1542

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Statistics for hippopotamus

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hippopotamus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hippopotamus. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce hippopotamus (audio)

English Language Learners 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


hip·​po·​pot·​a·​mus | \ ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-məs How to pronounce hippopotamus (audio) \
plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami\ -​ˌmī \

Kids Definition of hippopotamus

: 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hippopotamus

Spanish Central: Translation of hippopotamus

Nglish: Translation of hippopotamus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hippopotamus

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