ze·​bu ˈzē-(ˌ)bü How to pronounce zebu (audio)
: any of various breeds of domestic oxen developed in India that are often considered conspecific with the common ox (Bos taurus) or sometimes as a separate species (B. indicus) and are characterized by a large fleshy hump over the shoulders, a dewlap, pendulous ears, and marked resistance to the injurious effects of heat and insect attack

Illustration of zebu

Illustration of zebu

Examples of zebu in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But Grigson points out that African cattle have characteristics that are neither zebu nor taurine, such as a narrow face and long horns. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 That’s not news to Grigson, who, flouting the standard view among archeologists, has long argued that zebu cattle were domesticated independently in India. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 In Darlington, Pennsylvania, 4 miles from the accident, managers of the Kindred Spirits Rescue Ranch evacuated 77 of their biggest animals, including a yak and a zebu, for two days. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 14 Feb. 2023 There is a boy driving a herd of zebu up the side path from their morning bath in the sea. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, 28 Dec. 2020 Sweet, sweet Humphrey the miniature zebu stands just over two feet tall. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 8 Sep. 2019 The book’s acknowledgments make reference to a zebu (cow) skeleton in their living room. Julie Zickefoose, WSJ, 22 Nov. 2018 Make the most out of summer’s last hoorah with Byredo’s zebu horn comb, perfect for detangling salty lengths. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, 28 Aug. 2018 Thousands of villagers converge here to trade goods and to buy and sell zebu. Tom Downey, WSJ, 18 July 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zebu.' 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 zébu

First Known Use

1771, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zebu was in 1771

Dictionary Entries Near zebu

Cite this Entry

“Zebu.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zebu. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


ze·​bu ˈzē-b(y)ü How to pronounce zebu (audio)
: any of various breeds of domestic oxen developed in India that have a large fleshy hump over the shoulders and loose skin with hanging folds and that are able to withstand the harmful effects of heat and insect attack
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!