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[bahy-suh n, -zuh n] /ˈbaɪ sən, -zən/
noun, plural bison.
Also called American bison, American buffalo. a North American, oxlike ruminant, Bison bison, having a large head and high, humped shoulders: formerly common in North America, its small remaining population in isolated western areas of the U.S. and Canada is now protected.
Also called wisent. a related animal, Bison bonasus, of Europe, less shaggy and slightly larger than the American bison: now greatly reduced in number.
Compare buffalo.
Origin of bison
1350-1400; Middle English bisontes (plural) < Latin (nominative singular bisōn) < Germanic; compare Old High German wisunt, Old English wesend, Old Norse visundr
Related forms
[bahy-suh n-tahyn, -zuh n-] /ˈbaɪ sənˌtaɪn, -zən-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bison
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Harold came round the corner like a bison pursued by Indians.

    The Golden Age Kenneth Grahame
  • "Well, I should say so," murmured bison Billiam, a bit amazed at all this ceremony.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • "I'll be back in the morning," said bison Billiam as he mounted his horse.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • "It won't do; it won't do at all," said bison Billiam, in a tone almost of discouragement.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
  • bison Billiam was made the permanent arbitrator of the wing question.

    The Trimming of Goosie James Hopper
British Dictionary definitions for bison


noun (pl) -son
Also called American bison, buffalo. a member of the cattle tribe, Bison bison, formerly widely distributed over the prairies of W North America but now confined to reserves and parks, with a massive head, shaggy forequarters, and a humped back
Also called wisent, European bison. a closely related and similar animal, Bison bonasus, formerly widespread in Europe
Word Origin
C14: from Latin bisōn, of Germanic origin; related to Old English wesand, Old Norse vīsundr
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 bison

c.1600, from French bison (15c.), from Latin bison "wild ox," borrowed from Proto-Germanic *wisand- "aurochs" (cf. Old Norse visundr, Old High German wisunt "bison," Old English/Middle English wesend, which is not attested after c.1400). Possibly ultimately of Baltic or Slavic origin, and meaning "the stinking animal," in reference to its scent while rutting (see weasel). A European wild ox formerly widespread on the continent, including the British Isles, now surviving on forest reserves in Lithuania. Applied 1690s to the North American species commonly mis-called a buffalo.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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