ze·​bra ˈzē-brə How to pronounce zebra (audio)
 Canadian and British also  ˈze-
plural zebras
plural also zebra : any of several swift African mammals (Equus grevyi, E. quagga synonym E. burchelli, and E. zebra) related to the horse but distinctively and conspicuously patterned in stripes of black or dark brown and white or buff
[from the shirts patterned in black-and-white stripes worn by football referees] : referee sense 2
ˈzē-ˌbrīn How to pronounce zebra (audio)
 Canadian and British also  ˈze-
adjective or noun

Examples of zebra in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This female Grevy’s zebra foal was born at the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park in April 2024, marking a first — check out the little one! Fox News, 7 May 2024 The zebra’s owner pulled over on Interstate 90 to fix the issue when the zebras decided to make their escape, the animal service said. Ahjané Forbes, USA TODAY, 4 May 2024 The group of zebras was being transported from Winlock, Washington, to Anaconda, Montana, when the animals got loose while the owner had reportedly stopped to fix a problem with the trailer, the organization said, noting the other three zebras were recaptured within hours of the escape. Leah Sarnoff, ABC News, 4 May 2024 So far, three of the zebras have been recaptured, but one remains on the loose. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 May 2024 Law enforcement officers and the public in Washington state came together Sunday to take a rare hazard off the roads: runaway zebras. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 29 Apr. 2024 Despite its resemblance to a zebra thanks to its striped hindquarters – a likeness that originally duped scientists into classifying them as relatives of the zebra – the okapi shares evolutionary traits with its much taller and lankier cousin. Katie Liu, Discover Magazine, 11 Apr. 2024 Seconds later, the cheetahs burst into a small group of zebras. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, 26 Mar. 2024 African Plains exhibit features giraffes, lions, zebras and more. Michelle Jenkins, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024

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

Word History


Portuguese zebra, zebro wild ass, perhaps from Latin equiferus, kind of wild horse, from equus horse + ferus wild — more at equine, fierce

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of zebra was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near zebra

Cite this Entry

“Zebra.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zebra. Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ze·​bra ˈzēb-rə How to pronounce zebra (audio)
plural zebras also zebra
: any of several hoofed plant-eating African mammals that are related to the horse, have a hide striped in black or dark brown and white or buff, and are swift runners
: a small Indian fish with blue and silver stripes that is often kept in tropical aquariums

More from Merriam-Webster on zebra

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