Definition of hippopotamus
hippopotamiplay \ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-ˌmī, -(ˌ)mē\
: 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)b : pygmy hippopotamus
Recent Examples of hippopotamus from the Web
Sounds to me like your social media presence is like that hippopotamus: a lockbox of very special material that everyone wants a piece of.
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.
Origin and Etymology of hippopotamus
Latin, from Greek hippopotamos, alteration of hippos potamios, literally, riverine horse
First Known Use: 1563
HIPPOPOTAMUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of hippopotamus for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of hippopotamus for Students
: 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
History for hippopotamus
The bulky African mammal that spends its daytime hours sunk up to its eyes in a river owes its English name to the ancient Greeks. The historian Herodotus called the animal, which he may have seen in Egypt, ho hippos ho potamios, “the river horse.” Later Greek writers reduced this description to hippopotamos (which looks as if it should mean “horse river”). Despite its name, the hippopotamus is more closely related to hogs than horses.
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