• synonyms


[noo, nyoo]
noun, plural gnus, (especially collectively) gnu.
  1. either of two stocky, oxlike antelopes of the genus Connochaetes, the silver-gray, white-bearded C. taurinus of the eastern African plain and the black, white-tailed C. gnou of central South Africa: recently near extinction, the South African gnu is now protected.
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Origin of gnu

1770–80; < Khoikhoi, first recorded as t’gnu; probably to be identified with ǂnû black, as applying orig. to the black wildebeest
Also called wildebeest.
Can be confusedgnu knew new
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gnu

Historical Examples of gnu

  • Gnu is from the Hottentots, and giraffe from the Arabic zaraf.

    The Log of the Sun

    William Beebe

  • The lads rushed forward, eager to obtain some of the flesh of the gnu.

    Hendricks the Hunter

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • So that altogether the gnu cannot be considered as a handsome animal!

  • Suddenly he touches one with the gnu's tail which he carries in his hand.

  • By the by, did you know that Mrs. Gnu had actually bought the blue velvet?

    The Potiphar Papers

    George William Curtis

British Dictionary definitions for gnu


noun plural gnus or gnu
  1. either of two sturdy antelopes, Connochaetes taurinus (brindled gnu) or the much rarer C. gnou (white-tailed gnu), inhabiting the savannas of Africa, having an oxlike head and a long tufted tailAlso called: wildebeest
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Word Origin for gnu

C18: from Xhosa nqu
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 gnu


1777, gnoo, from Dutch gnoe, used by German traveler Georg Forster (1754-1794) to render Hottentot i-ngu "wildebeest," from Southern Bushman !nu: (in which ! and : represent clicks).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper