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giraffe

[juh-raf or, esp. British, -rahf] /dʒəˈræf or, esp. British, -ˈrɑf/
noun
1.
a tall, long-necked, spotted ruminant, Giraffa camelopardalis, of Africa: the tallest living quadruped animal.
2.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Camelopardalis.
Origin
1585-1595
1585-95; < French girafe < Italian giraffa < dialectal Arabic zirāfah, perhaps < Persian zurnāpā
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for giraffe
  • Stunning footage of giraffe framed by a beautiful sunset.
  • Some pterosaurs, on the other hand, were the size of a giraffe.
  • The project has, so far, led to a mechanical giraffe and an elephant.
  • As with many extant large mammals, though, the giraffe is only a vestige of a once more diverse group.
  • Across the room, stylized wooden giraffe sculptures tower over a comfortable sofa.
  • We also ran into a giraffe that had some kind of skin disease, but looked healthy otherwise.
  • In effect, this newer, longer neck was a direct result of a giraffe's interaction with its environment.
  • The finch's beak, the giraffe's neck and sprinter's toes.
  • Show giraffe trying in vain to reach a piece of fruit high on a tree branch.
  • The monkey clambers up on top of giraffe's head and picks the fruit, but then eats it himself.
British Dictionary definitions for giraffe

giraffe

/dʒɪˈrɑːf; -ˈræf/
noun (pl) -raffes, -raffe
1.
a large ruminant mammal, Giraffa camelopardalis, inhabiting savannas of tropical Africa: the tallest mammal, with very long legs and neck and a colouring of regular reddish-brown patches on a beige ground: family Giraffidae
Word Origin
C17: from Italian giraffa, from Arabic zarāfah, probably of African origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for giraffe
n.

1590s, giraffa, from Italian giraffa, from Arabic zarafa, probably from an African language. Earlier Middle English spellings varied wildly, depending on the source, including jarraf, ziraph, and gerfauntz, some apparently directly from Arabic, the last reflecting some confusion with olifaunt "elephant."

In Arabye, þei ben clept Gerfauntz; þat is a best pomelee or spotted .. but a lityll more high þan is a stede, But he hath the necke a xxti cubytes long. [Mandeville's Travels, c.1425]
The modern form of the English word is attested by c.1600 and is via French girafe. Replaced earlier camelopard, a compound of camel (for the long neck) and pard (n.1) "leopard" (for the spots).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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