Definition of pachyderm
: any of various nonruminant mammals (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
pachyderm was our Word of the Day on 07/28/2015. Hear the podcast!
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).
Origin and Etymology of pachyderm
French pachyderme, from Greek pachydermos thick-skinned, from pachys thick + derma skin; akin to Sanskrit bahu dense, much — more at derm-
First Known Use: 1828
PACHYDERM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of pachyderm for English Language Learners
: a type of animal that has hooves and thick skin
Learn More about pachyderm
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up pachyderm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).