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late 14c., from Latin catoblepas, from Greek katobleps, from kato "downward" (related to kata-) + blepein "to look," but this might be ancient folk etymology. Name given by ancient authors to some African animal.

A wylde beest that hyghte Catoblefas and hath a lytyll body and nyce in all membres and a grete heed hangynge alway to-warde the erth. [John of Trevisa, translation of Bartholomew de Glanville's "De proprietatibus rerum," 1398]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Historical Examples
  • The third species (catoblepas taurina) is the “ko-koon” of the natives.

    The Bush Boys Captain Mayne Reid
  • The “brindled gnoo” (catoblepas gorgon) is the other species that inhabits the South of Africa.

    The Bush Boys Captain Mayne Reid

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