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1580s (earlier buffel, 1510s, from Middle French), from Portuguese bufalo "water buffalo," from Latin bufalus, variant of bubalus "wild ox," from Greek boubalos "buffalo," originally a kind of African antelope, later used of a type of domesticated ox in southern Asia and the Mediterranean lands, perhaps from bous "ox, cow" (see cow (n.)). Wrongly applied since 1630s to the American bison. Buffalo gnat is recorded from 1822.
"alarm, overawe," 1900, from buffalo (n.). Probably from the animals' tendency to mass panic. Related: Buffaloed; buffaloing.
city in western New York state, U.S., of disputed origin (there never were buffalo thereabouts), perhaps from the name of a native chief, or a corruption of French beau fleuve "beautiful river." Buffalo wings finger food so called because the recipe was invented in Buffalo (1964, at Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar on Main Street).