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bestiary

[bes-chee-er-ee, bees-]
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noun, plural bes·ti·ar·ies.
  1. a collection of moralized fables, especially as written in the Middle Ages, about actual or mythical animals.

Origin of bestiary

1615–25; < Medieval Latin bēstiārium, neuter of Latin bēstiārius. See beast, -ary
Related formsbes·ti·a·rist [bes-chee-er-ist, -cher-, bees-] /ˈbɛs tʃi ər ɪst, -tʃər-, ˈbis-/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for bestiary

bestiary

noun plural -aries
  1. a moralizing medieval collection of descriptions (and often illustrations) of real and mythical animals
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

Word Origin and History for bestiary

n.

"medieval treatise on beasts" usually with moralistic overtones, 1818, from Medieval Latin bestiarium "a menagerie," also "a book about animals", from bestia (see beast). A Latin term for such works was liber de bestiis compositus. Roman bestiarius meant "a fighter against beasts in the public entertainments."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper