noun hip·po·pot·a·mus \ ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-məs \
Updated on: 20 Feb 2018

Definition of hippopotamus

plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami play \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)

Recent Examples of hippopotamus from the Web

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Illustration of hippopotamus

illustration of hippopotamus

Origin and Etymology of hippopotamus

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

Other Mammals Terms

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


noun hip·po·pot·a·mus \ ˌhi-pə-ˈpä-tə-məs \

Definition of hippopotamus for Students

plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami \-ˌmī\
: 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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