rhi·​noc·​er·​os rī-ˈnäs-rəs How to pronounce rhinoceros (audio)
plural rhinoceroses also rhinoceros or rhinoceri rī-ˈnä-sə-ˌrī How to pronounce rhinoceros (audio)
: any of a family (Rhinocerotidae) of large heavyset herbivorous perissodactyl mammals of Africa and Asia that have one or two upright keratinous horns on the snout and thick gray to brown skin with little hair

Illustration of rhinoceros

Illustration of rhinoceros

Examples of rhinoceros in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The mother and calf will spend time indoors alone together before the calf is introduced to the three other rhinoceroses who live at the Indianapolis Zoo. Esme Mazzeo, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 The dig revealed the presence of reindeer, cave bears, woolly rhinoceroses and horses. Katie Hunt, CNN, 1 Feb. 2024 The team found reindeer, cave bear, wooly rhinoceros and horse bones, meaning the cold environment was like the steppe tundras found in modern Siberia and northern Scandinavia. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 About 95 percent of species, including giraffes, leopards, hyenas, warthog, impala, elephants, and rhinoceroses, ran more often or abandoned waterholes more quickly in response to human sounds than lions. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 5 Oct. 2023 The first episode brings viewers into the world’s largest rhinoceros sanctuary where a former police captain has dedicated her life to rescuing, raising, and rewilding these gentle giants. Todd Spangler, Variety, 16 Jan. 2024 Two bronze statues — a rhinoceros and a gorilla — guarded the entrance, playfully. Nicholas Casey, New York Times, 15 Dec. 2023 The animals, experts said, include primates commonly kept as pets or in zoos; species often found at game farms in Texas; a variety of large mammals, such as rhinoceros and giraffe; and other small exotic rodents. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2023 Today, this wild place has a happier problem: an abundance of rhinoceros. Christopher Cameron, Robb Report, 28 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rhinoceros.' 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 rinoceros, from Anglo-French, from Latin rhinocerot-, rhinoceros, from Greek rhinokerōt-, rhinokerōs, from rhin- + keras horn — more at horn

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near rhinoceros

Cite this Entry

“Rhinoceros.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhinoceros. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


rhi·​noc·​er·​os rī-ˈnäs-(ə-)rəs How to pronounce rhinoceros (audio)
plural rhinoceroses also rhinoceros
: any of various large plant-eating mammals of Africa and Asia that are related to the horse and have a thick skin with little hair, three toes on each foot, and one or two heavy upright horns on the snout

Middle English rinoceros "rhinoceros," from Latin rhinocerot-, rhinoceros (same meaning), from Greek rhinokerōt-, rhinokerōs, literally "nose-horned," from rhin-, rhis "nose" and keras "horn"

Word Origin
One of the largest animals found on land today is the thick-skinned rhinoceros. Another of the animal's characteristics, besides large size, is found on its snout. All rhinoceroses have at least one horn, and some have two horns. The English name for this animal with a horn or horns on its snout was borrowed from Latin rhinoceros. The Latin name, in turn, came from the Greek word rhinokerōs, which literally means "nose-horned." This word is made up of the Greek word rhin-, rhis, meaning "nose" and the word keras, meaning "horn."

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