hippopotamus

noun
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

The invasive fauna included the ancestors of modern-day lion, zebra, rhinoceros, hippopotamus and antelopes. Paul Manger, Quartz Africa, "Elephants evolved larger brains partly thanks to climate change, say scientists," 28 June 2019 Leonardo’s visual acuity was driven by his abiding faith in nature’s design, whether a tree root or a hippopotamus. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "Why Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliance endures, 500 years after his death," 12 June 2019 Martin Van Buren had tigers and Calvin Coolidge had a hippopotamus. Kevin Fisher-paulson, SFChronicle.com, "Bandit weighs pack of first dog hopefuls," 11 June 2019 To expand its grocery business in China, Alibaba now operates 57 Hema supermarkets, a high-end chain with a hippopotamus logo. Esther Fung, WSJ, "China’s Online Shopping Giants Open Thousands of Bricks-and-Mortar Stores," 31 July 2018 Lions, giraffes, hippopotamus, and impalas are also fairly common, while rhinoceros and cheetahs are decidedly more rare to spot. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "How to Plan a Safari in Kenya: A Beginner's Guide," 14 Nov. 2018 Most of them took jewelry and other personal adornments to their graves: strands of ostrich eggshell or vibrantly colored stone beads, hippopotamus ivory rings or bangles, or headpieces made from latticed arrangements of animal teeth. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists explore East Africa’s ancient monumental cemeteries," 21 Aug. 2018 Carved ivory upper and lower dentures (18th century) The first dentures were made of hippopotamus ivory, which was thought to be more durable. Roslyn Sulcas, New York Times, "This Exhibition Has Real Bite," 7 June 2018 For example, more than 40 hippopotamuses roam free in Colombia, stemming from a handful that wandered away from his private zoo. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "A Look at the Inner Lives of 13 Species of Animals You Think You Know," 13 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hippopotamus

Statistics for hippopotamus

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hippopotamus

The first known use of hippopotamus was in 1542

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hippopotamus

hippopotamus

noun

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

hippopotamus

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hippopotamus

Spanish Central: Translation of hippopotamus

Nglish: Translation of hippopotamus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hippopotamus

Comments on hippopotamus

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

to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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