pachyderm

noun
pachy·​derm | \ˈpa-ki-ˌdərm \

Definition of pachyderm 

: any of various nonruminant mammals (such as an elephant, a rhinoceros, or a hippopotamus) of a former group (Pachydermata) that have hooves or nails resembling hooves and usually thick skin especially : elephant

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Did You Know?

Pachydermos in Greek means literally "having thick skin" (figuratively, it means "dull" or "stupid"). It's from pachys, meaning "thick," and derma, meaning "skin." In the late 1700s the French naturalist Georges Cuvier adapted the Greek term as pachyderme and used it for any one of a whole assemblage of hoofed animals having thickish skin: elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, tapirs, horses, pigs, and more. English speakers learned the word from French in the early 1800s. The adjective pachydermatous means "of or relating to the pachyderms" or "thickened" (referring to skin). Not too surprisingly, it also means "callous" or "insensitive" (somewhat unfairly to elephants, which are actually known to be rather sensitive).

Examples of pachyderm in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The smooth pachyderm criminal managed to sneak out of his exhibit at the Florida zoo through a door that was accidentally left open. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Michael Jackson's Former Neverland Ranch Elephant Escapes New Home at Florida Zoo," 18 June 2018 Wilstem offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bathe one of three elephants, love on them and learn more about the peaceful pachyderms. Sarah Bahr, Indianapolis Star, "Ultimate Indiana bucket list: 50+ things to do in Indianapolis and around the state," 11 July 2018 This was no ordinary delivery: this package contained a pachyderm. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "Meet Spike, the Affable Asian Bull Elephant Trucked Up From Florida to Join the National Zoo," 23 Mar. 2018 The first teaser trailer for Dumbo, Disney's live-action take of everyone's favorite floppy-eared pachyderm, was released Wednesday morning — and this might be the cutest thing the House of Mouse has released in recent memory. D. Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Disney Debuts "Dumbo" Live-Action Trailer," 13 June 2018 But save some camera battery for the Elephant Terrace, too, as its hundreds of stone pachyderms once welcomed the Khmer imperial army back from battle. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "3 Days in Siem Reap," 16 Apr. 2018 Aramis Babcock, 19, is one of the students from UTSA’s Honors College who conceived, researched and designed what is essentially a toy to entertain the zoo’s three pachyderms, Lucky, Karen and Nicole. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "Elephants at Zoo receive enrichment project from UTSA Honors College students," 10 Apr. 2018 One elephant was killed and two others were injured after a truck carrying five pachyderms crashed on a highway. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Truck carrying elephants crashes in Spain, at least one animal killed," 2 Apr. 2018 As for the elephant in the room — or lack thereof — the absence of a real pachyderm is dealt with through the occasional sound effect and imagination. Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "A mystery ambles along in Garden's 'Tennessee Walk'," 17 Mar. 2018

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

1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pachyderm

French pachyderme, from Greek pachydermos thick-skinned, from pachys thick + derma skin; akin to Sanskrit bahu dense, much — more at derm-

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Time Traveler for pachyderm

The first known use of pachyderm was in 1828

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More Definitions for pachyderm

pachyderm

noun

English Language Learners Definition of pachyderm

: a type of animal that has hooves and thick skin

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