noun, plural deer, (occasionally) deers.

any of several ruminants of the family Cervidae, most of the males of which have solid, deciduous antlers.
any of the smaller species of this family, as distinguished from the moose, elk, etc.

Origin of deer

before 900; Middle English der, Old English dēor beast; akin to Gothic dius beast, Old High German tior Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deer

Contemporary Examples of deer

Historical Examples of deer

  • Deer, Angora goats, hares, and trout have been also introduced.

  • Suppose that you are taking a trip in the mountains and you have seen a deer.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Deer came at night to feed on the lily buds on the lake borders.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • She lay looking at me like a deer that I had shot, waiting for me to plunge in the knife.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • She's as graceful as a deer, and I'm sure she'll run as fast as any of them.


    W. A. Fraser

British Dictionary definitions for deer


noun plural deer or deers

any ruminant artiodactyl mammal of the family Cervidae, including reindeer, elk, muntjacs, and roe deer, typically having antlers in the maleRelated adjective: cervine
(in N Canada) another name for caribou

Word Origin for deer

Old English dēor beast; related to Old High German tior wild beast, Old Norse dӯr
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 deer

Old English deor "animal, beast," from Proto-Germanic *deuzam, the general Germanic word for "animal" (as opposed to man), but often restricted to "wild animal" (cf. Old Frisian diar, Dutch dier, Old Norse dyr, Old High German tior, German Tier "animal," Gothic dius "wild animal," also cf. reindeer), from PIE *dheusom "creature that breathes," from root *dheu- (1) "cloud, breath" (cf. Lithuanian dusti "gasp," dvesti "gasp, perish;" Old Church Slavonic dychati "breathe").

For prehistoric sense development, cf. Latin animal from anima "breath"). Sense specialization to a specific animal began in Old English (usual Old English for what we now call a deer was heorot; see hart), common by 15c., now complete. Probably via hunting, deer being the favorite animal of the chase (cf. Sanskrit mrga- "wild animal," used especially for "deer"). Deer-lick is first attested 1778, in an American context.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper