Word Origin & History
1580s (earlier buffel, 1510s, from M.Fr.), from Port. bufalo "water buffalo," from L. bufalus, var. of bubalus "wild ox," from Gk. boubalos "buffalo," originally a kind of African antelope, later used of a type of domesticated ox in southern Asia and the Mediterranean lands, from bous "ox, cow" (see
). Wrongly applied since 1630s to the American bison. The verb meaning "to overawe" is from 1903. Buffalo gnat is recorded from 1822.
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 Fr. beau fleuve "beautiful river." Buffalo wings finger food so called because the recipe was invented in Buffalo, N.Y., (1964, at Frank & Teressa's
Anchor Bar on Main Street).