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brontosaurus

[ bron-tuh-sawr-uhs ]
/ ˌbrɒn təˈsɔr əs /
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noun, plural bron·to·sau·rus·es, bron·to·sau·ri [bron-tuh-sawr-ahy]. /ˌbrɒn təˈsɔr aɪ/.

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Origin of brontosaurus

<New Latin (1879), equivalent to Greek bronto- (combining form of brontḗ thunder) + saûros-saurus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

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British Dictionary definitions for brontosaurus

brontosaurus

brontosaur (ˈbrɒntəˌsɔː)

/ (ˌbrɒntəˈsɔːrəs) /

noun

any very large herbivorous quadrupedal dinosaur of the genus Apatosaurus, common in North America during Jurassic times, having a long neck and long tail: suborder Sauropoda (sauropods)

Word Origin for brontosaurus

C19: from New Latin, from Greek brontē thunder + sauros lizard
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

Scientific definitions for brontosaurus

brontosaurus
[ brŏn′tə-sôrəs ]
brontosaur (brŏntə-sôr′)

An earlier name for apatosaurus.

Word History

Take a little deception, add a little excitement, stir them with a century-long mistake, and you have the mystery of the brontosaurus. Specifically, you have the mystery of its name. For 100 years this 70-foot-long, 30-ton vegetarian giant had two names. This case of double identity began in 1877, when bones of a large dinosaur were discovered. The creature was dubbed apatosaurus, a name that meant “deceptive lizard” or “unreal lizard.” Two years later, bones of a larger dinosaur were found, and in all the excitement, scientists named it brontosaurus or “thunder lizard.” This name stuck until scientists decided it was all a mistake-the two sets of bones actually belonged to the same type of dinosaur. Since it is a rule in taxonomy that the first name given to a newly discovered organism is the one that must be used, scientists have had to use the term apatosaurus. But “thunder lizard” had found a lot of popular appeal, and many people still prefer to call the beast brontosaurus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for brontosaurus

Brontosaurus
[ (bron-tuh-sawr-uhs) ]

A large herbivorous (see herbivore) dinosaur, perhaps the most familiar of the dinosaurs. The scientific name has recently been changed to Apatosaurus, but Brontosaurus is still used popularly. The word is from the Greek, meaning “thunder lizard.”

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.
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