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centaur

[sen-tawr]
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noun
  1. 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.
  2. (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Centaurus.
  3. a skillful horseman or horsewoman.
  4. (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 formscen·tau·ri·al, cen·tau·ri·an, cen·tau·ric, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for centaurs

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And then there were the satyrs and centaurs, and suchlike beings.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • The most beautiful and youthful of the Centaurs was Cyllarus.

  • Contests with the Amazons and battles with the centaurs form the subject of the whole.

  • Swift no doubt took his idea of the men-horses from centaurs.

    Human Animals

    Frank Hamel

  • The Centaurs were mythical creatures which inhabited Thessaly.

    Human Animals

    Frank Hamel


British Dictionary definitions for centaurs

centaur

noun
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for centaurs

centaur

n.

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

centaurs in Science

Centaur

[sĕntôr′]
  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

centaurs in Culture

centaurs

Creatures in classical mythology who were half-human and half-horse.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.