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[sen-tawr] /ˈsɛn tɔr/
Classical Mythology. one of a race of monsters having the head, trunk, and arms of a man, and the body and legs of a horse.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Centaurus.
a skillful horseman or horsewoman.
(initial capital letter) Rocketry. a U.S. upper stage, with a restartable liquid-propellant engine, used with an Atlas or Titan booster to launch satellites and probes.
Origin of centaur
1325-75; Middle English, Old English < Latin centaurus < Greek kéntauros
Related forms
centaurial, centaurian, centauric, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for centaur
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • So might a mortal look if some strange hap brought him face to face with a centaur.

    The Wild Geese Stanley John Weyman
  • He was in the saddle in a flash, and sat there like a centaur.

  • The colossal figure of the centaur was plainly distinguishable.

    Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos
  • It is older than Hippocrates, older than Chiron the centaur.

    Medical Essays Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • The first two laws are also ascribed to the centaur Cheiron.

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
  • The centaur and the satyr are no longer grotesque; the type is accepted.

    The Sense of Beauty George Santayana
  • In that rank he served on board the centaur, the flagship on the Brazilian station.

    Our Sailors W.H.G. Kingston
  • This is a star of the first magnitude, Alpha in the constellation of the centaur.

    The Astronomy of the Bible E. Walter Maunder
British Dictionary definitions for centaur


(Greek myth) one of a race of creatures with the head, arms, and torso of a man, and the lower body and legs of a horse
Word Origin
C14: from Latin, from Greek kentauros, of unknown origin
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 centaur

late 14c., from Latin centaurus, from Greek Kentauros, origin disputed. In early Greek literature they were a savage, horse-riding tribe from Thessaly; later they were monsters half horse, half man. The southern constellation of Centaurus is attested in English from 1550s but was known by that name to the Romans and known as a centaur to the Greeks. It has often been confused since classical times with Sagittarius.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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centaur in Science
Any of a group of icy bodies similar to both asteroids and comets, orbiting the Sun in elliptical paths mostly in the region between Saturn and Neptune. Centaurs range in diameter from around 100 to 400 km (62 to 248 mi) and are believed to be Kuiper belt objects that have escaped into the vicinity of the gas-giant planets. Centaurs are considered to have unstable orbits, and gravitational encounters with the large outer planets could send them into the inner solar system or alternatively could eject them from the solar system into interstellar space. Chiron, the first such body to be classified as a Centaur, was discovered in 1977.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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