Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[hip-uh-pot-uh-muh s] /ˌhɪp əˈpɒt ə məs/
noun, plural hippopotamuses, hippopotami
[hip-uh-pot-uh-mahy] /ˌhɪp əˈpɒt əˌmaɪ/ (Show IPA)
a large herbivorous mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, having a thick hairless body, short legs, and a large head and muzzle, found in and near the rivers, lakes, etc., of Africa, and able to remain under water for a considerable time.
Origin of hippopotamus
1555-65; < Latin < Greek hippopótamos, earlier híppos potámios literally, riverine horse (term used by Herodotus in his account of the Egyptian hippopotamus); compare Middle English ypotame, ypotamos, ypotanus < Old French ypotame < Medieval Latin ypotamus
Related forms
[hip-uh-puh-tam-ik] /ˌhɪp ə pəˈtæm ɪk/ (Show IPA),
[hip-uh-puh-tey-mee-uh n] /ˌhɪp ə pəˈteɪ mi ən/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for hippopotamus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some crocodile or hippopotamus crawling through the rushes might craunch the babe.

    The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage
  • "I don't believe you ever had a $100 bill," growled the hippopotamus.

    Andiron Tales John Kendrick Bangs
  • It is all right for a giraffe to be sentimental, but not a hippopotamus.

    Cobb's Anatomy Irvin S. Cobb
  • Why not ask Farmer Green to shoot off the tail of the hippopotamus?

    The Tale of Ferdinand Frog Arthur Scott Bailey
  • I know our swamp as a hippopotamus might, or—to stick to plain Yankee creatures—a mud turtle.

    The Jonathan Papers Elisabeth Woodbridge Morris
  • I've had—call it hippopotamus on the chest this two months, and you'll about hit the mark.

    The Dop Doctor Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • In hippopotamus the skull though essentially like that of the pig is much modified in detail.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton Sidney H. Reynolds
  • The hide of the hippopotamus is used by the natives for many purposes.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • Their prey is soon secured, for the well-aimed harpoon has done its work, and the hippopotamus is soon forced to succumb.

British Dictionary definitions for hippopotamus


noun (pl) -muses, -mi (-ˌmaɪ)
a very large massive gregarious artiodactyl mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, living in or around the rivers of tropical Africa: family Hippopotamidae. It has short legs and a thick skin sparsely covered with hair
pigmy hippopotamus, a related but smaller animal, Choeropsis liberiensis
Word Origin
C16: from Latin, from Greek hippopotamos river horse, from hippos horse + potamos river
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for hippopotamus

1560s, from Late Latin hippopotamus, from Greek hippopotamus "riverhorse" (earlier ho hippos ho potamios "the horse of the river"), from hippos "horse" (see equine) + potamos "river, rushing water" (see potamo-). Replaced Middle English ypotame (c.1300), which is from the same source but via Old French. Glossed in Old English as sæhengest.

Ypotamos comen flyngynge. ... Grete bestes and griselich ["Kyng Alisaunder," c.1300]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for hippopotamus

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for hippopotamus

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for hippopotamus