Word of the Day : July 28, 2015


noun PAK-ih-derm


: any of various nonruminant mammals (such 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

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).


"The archetypal Seuss hero … was Horton, a conscientious pachyderm who was duped by a lazy bird into sitting on her egg." - Eric Pace, New York Times, September 26, 1991

"Each month, as Nandi bounds closer to her first birthday on Aug. 20, we will keep you in the know on what’s new with this precious pachyderm’s progress." - Johanna Willett, Arizona Daily Star, June 18, 2015

Test Your Vocabulary

What elephantine term can refer to something that requires a lot of care and money and that gives little profit or enjoyment? The answer is …


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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