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noun, plural me·ri·nos.
  1. (often initial capital letter) one of a breed of sheep, raised originally in Spain, valued for their fine wool.
  2. wool from such sheep.
  3. a yarn or fabric made from this wool.
  1. made of merino wool, yarn, or cloth.

Origin of merino

1775–85; < Spanish < Arabic (banū) marīn a Berber tribe known for raising this breed
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for merino


noun plural -nos
  1. a breed of sheep, originating in Spain, bred for their fleece
  2. the long fine wool of this sheep
  3. the yarn made from this wool, often mixed with cotton
  4. pure merino Australian informal
    1. historya free settler rather than a convict
    2. an affluent and socially prominent person
    3. (as modifier)a pure merino cricketer
  1. made from merino wool

Word Origin

C18: from Spanish, origin uncertain
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 merino


fine-wool breed of sheep, 1781, from Spanish merino, possibly from Arabic Merini, a Berber family or tribe of sheep farmers in northwest Africa whose animals were imported into Spain 14c.-15c. to improve local breeds. Or from or influenced by Latin majorinus, from major "greater," either in reference to size of the animals or from Spanish derivative merino (n.) "overseer of cattle pastures," also a title of judicial officers. Applied from early 19c. to the wool itself and to various articles made from it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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