noun, plural hippopotamuses, hippopotami [hip-uh-pot-uh-mahy] .
a large herbivorous mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, having a thick hairless body, short legs, and a large head and muzzle, found in and near the rivers, lakes, etc., of Africa, and able to remain under water for a considerable time.

1555–65; < Latin < Greek hippopótamos, earlier híppos potámios literally, riverine horse (term used by Herodotus in his account of the Egyptian hippopotamus); compare Middle English ypotame, ypotamos, ypotanus < Old French ypotame < Medieval Latin ypotamus

hippopotamic [hip-uh-puh-tam-ik] , hippopotamian [hip-uh-puh-tey-mee-uhn] , adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To hippopotami
World English Dictionary
hippopotamus (ˌhɪpəˈpɒtəməs)
n , pl -muses, -mi
1.  a very large massive gregarious artiodactyl mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, living in or around the rivers of tropical Africa: family Hippopotamidae. It has short legs and a thick skin sparsely covered with hair
2.  pigmy hippopotamus a related but smaller animal, Choeropsis liberiensis
[C16: from Latin, from Greek hippopotamos river horse, from hippos horse + potamos river]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1563, from L.L. hippopotamus, from Gk. hippopotamus "riverhorse" (earlier ho hippos ho potamios "the horse of the river"), from hippos "horse" + potamos "river, rushing water" (see petition). Replaced M.E. ypotame (c.1300), which is from the same source but via O.Fr.
"Ypotamos comen flyngynge. ... Grete bestes and griselich" ["Kyng Alisaunder," c.1300]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature