on·​a·​ger ˈä-ni-jər How to pronounce onager (audio)
: an Asian wild ass (Equus hemionus onager synonym E. onager) that usually has a broad dorsal stripe and is related to the kiang
[Late Latin, from Latin] : a heavy catapult used in ancient and medieval times

Illustration of onager

Illustration of onager
  • onager 2

Examples of onager in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now, analysis of DNA extracted from the bones buried at Umm el-Marra has revealed the animal was a cross between a donkey, which was domesticated at the time, and the now-extinct Syrian wild ass, sometimes called hemippe or an onager. Katie Hunt, CNN, 14 Jan. 2022 Researchers have uncovered thousands of bone fragments at the site, including remains from horses, extinct wild oxen known as aurochs, and donkey relatives called onagers. Maya Wei-Haas, National Geographic, 24 July 2019 The two of them once passed two very happy weekends of courtship in attempts to reconstruct an ancient catapult called an onager. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, WIRED, 18 June 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'onager.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, wild ass, from Latin, from Greek onagros, from onos ass + agros field — more at acre

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of onager was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near onager

Cite this Entry

“Onager.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/onager. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

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