any of several horselike African mammals of the genus Equus, each species having a characteristic pattern of black or dark-brown stripes on a whitish background: all zebra species are threatened or endangered.
Also called zebra butterfly. a tropical butterfly, Heliconius charithonius, having black wings barred with yellow.
(initial capital letter) a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Z.
Football Slang. an official, who usually wears a black and white striped shirt.
1590-1600;1975-80for def 4; < Portuguesezebra, zebro the Iberian wild ass (Spanishcebra), perhaps < Latinequiferus (Pliny) kind of wild horse, equivalent to equi- (combining form of equus horse) + ferus wild
c.1600, from Italian zebra, perhaps via Portuguese, earlier applied to a now-extinct wild ass, said to be Congolese [OED], or Amharic [Klein], but perhaps ultimately from Latin equiferus "wild horse," from equus "horse" (see equine) + ferus (see fierce).
A referee or other sports official who wears a striped shirt on the playing field: Pro football zebras point immediately toward the offending team/ a crooked Zebra (also known as an umpire)(1978+ Sports)
An unlikely, arcane, or obscure diagnosis (1980s+ Medical)
A person of mixed black and white race: I've been called a ''zebra'' and an ''Oreo''(1980s+)
[the medical sense is fr the saying ''If you hear horse's hoofbeats going by outside, don't look for zebras'']
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source