ser·​val ˈsər-vəl How to pronounce serval (audio)
: a long-legged African wildcat (Felis serval) having large ears and a tawny black-spotted coat

Illustration of serval

Illustration of serval

Examples of serval in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One of the warrants dated Dec. 8 and obtained by PEOPLE shows the animals found dead at the zoo include cranes and servals, as well as an alligator, llama and macaw. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 11 Dec. 2023 This area – spanning parts of modern-day Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iran and more – is home to numerous small cats, including the caracal, serval, jungle cat and sand cat. Jonathan Losos, Discover Magazine, 10 Aug. 2023 Bernal praised her social personality — lots of vocalization and chuffing, a tiger’s version of purring. Sadler, who did his medical residency at the University of Tennessee which has an exotic cat rescue refuge, previously had performed amputations on a tiger and a serval. Diane Bell, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 July 2023 With the longest legs relative to body size of any wild cat, the serval is also one of the fastest, able to run at speeds up to fifty miles per hour. Discover Magazine, 15 Sep. 2014 During this annual event, community members wear lipatelo skirts made from leopard and serval fur and mishukwe headpieces topped by lion manes. Catherine Garcia, The Week, 8 June 2023 Lions, African wild dogs, serval cats, monkeys, puku antelope, and warthogs are all featured in the series, but there is one specific animal Britton saw herself in. Corin Cesaric, Peoplemag, 9 May 2023 In an initial veterinary exam, the refuge’s team found the serval was suffering from several problems. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Feb. 2023 In response to the calamity, Ohio established new laws prohibiting the possession of many exotic animals, including African servals. Paul Richards, Field & Stream, 14 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


French, from Portuguese lobo cerval lynx, from Medieval Latin lupus cervalis, literally, deerlike wolf

First Known Use

1834, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of serval was in 1834

Dictionary Entries Near serval

Cite this Entry

“Serval.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on serval

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