a small, hardy horse of the American plains, descended from Spanish stock.
U.S. Navy Slang. a naval officer who received his commission while still an enlisted man.
verb (used without object)
to round up wild horses, especially in order to sell them illegally to slaughterhouses.

1800–10, Americanism; < Spanish mestengo stray or ownerless beast, noun use of masculine adj.: pertaining to a mixed lot of beasts, equivalent to mest(a) such a mixed lot (< Latin (animālia) mixta mixed (beasts), neuter plural adj., taken as feminine singular noun; see mixed) + -engo adj. suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mustang (ˈmʌstæŋ)
a small breed of horse, often wild or half wild, found in the southwestern US
[C19: from Mexican Spanish mestengo, from mesta a group of stray animals]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"small, half-wild horse of the Amer. prairie," 1808, from Mex.Sp. mestengo "animal that strays," from Sp. mestengo "wild, stray, ownerless," lit. "belonging to the mesta," an association of cattle ranchers who divided stray or unclaimed animals that got "mixed" with the herds, from L. mixta "mixed,"
fem. pp. of miscere "to mix" (see mix). Said to be influenced by the Sp. word mostrenco, which is of obscure origin and meaning.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


North American wild or Indian-tamed horse, descended from horses taken to the New World by the Spanish in the 16th century. The name comes from that of an Indian tribe of eastern Washington and Oregon that was known for the small horses it bred.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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