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[kang-guh-roo] /ˌkæŋ gəˈru/
noun, plural kangaroos (especially collectively) kangaroo.
any herbivorous marsupial of the family Macropodidae, of Australia and adjacent islands, having a small head, short forelimbs, powerful hind legs used for leaping, and a long, thick tail: several species are threatened or endangered.
Origin of kangaroo
1760-70; < Guugu Yimidhirr (Australian Aboriginal language spoken around Cooktown, N Queensland) gaŋ-urru large black or gray species of kangaroo
Related forms
kangaroolike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for kangaroo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The photograph might be the same as himself in the sense of resemblance; but in that sense the kangaroo is not the same.

  • No one knew his name, and he was just called "kangaroo," because that was his patrol.

  • The kangaroo also is proper to Australia, and there are other animals of like kind.

    Early Australian Voyages John Pinkerton
  • We feasted on our kangaroo flesh, and were able to repay him with a portion of it.

    Peter Biddulph W.H.G. Kingston
  • As a presiding judge said, "His leaps are like a kangaroo's, and his speech gave me the headache."

    Robert Toombs Pleasant A. Stovall
  • But in the kangaroo figure, the burden is slightly shifted and naught is amiss.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
British Dictionary definitions for kangaroo


noun (pl) -roos
any large herbivorous marsupial of the genus Macropus and related genera, of Australia and New Guinea, having large powerful hind legs, used for leaping, and a long thick tail: family Macropodidae See also rat kangaroo, tree kangaroo
(usually pl) (stock exchange) an Australian share, esp in mining, land, or a tobacco company
verb -roos, -rooing, -rooed
(informal) (of a car) to move forward or to cause (a car) to move forward with short sudden jerks, as a result of improper use of the clutch
Derived Forms
kangaroo-like, adjective
Word Origin
C18: probably from a native Australian language
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 kangaroo

1770, used by Capt. Cook and botanist Joseph Banks, supposedly an aborigine word from northeast Queensland, Australia, usually said to be unknown now in any native language. However, according to Australian linguist R.M.W. Dixon ("The Languages of Australia," Cambridge, 1980), the word probably is from Guugu Yimidhirr (Endeavour River-area Aborigine language) /gaNurru/ "large black kangaroo."

In 1898 the pioneer ethnologist W.E. Roth wrote a letter to the Australasian pointing out that gang-oo-roo did mean 'kangaroo' in Guugu Yimidhirr, but this newspaper correspondence went unnoticed by lexicographers. Finally the observations of Cook and Roth were confirmed when in 1972 the anthropologist John Haviland began intensive study of Guugu Yimidhirr and again recorded /gaNurru/. [Dixon]
Kangaroo court is American English, first recorded 1850 in a Southwestern context (also mustang court), from notion of proceeding by leaps.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for kangaroo



To convict someone with false evidence; frame (Prison)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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