• 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 gnus

Historical Examples of gnus

  • I only hoped that the gnus had led them a long chase, and that they were far away from me.

    In the Wilds of Africa

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Into this gap the Germans placed a number of gnus—six or eight.

  • Gnus and zebras contemplate the strange intruder with an air of surprise.

    The Desert World

    Arthur Mangin

  • The Gnus, Connochaetes, are familiar owing to their curious aspect.

  • It was evident that they had been following the gnus, who had only at that instant begun to suspect their presence.

    In the Wilds of Africa

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for gnus


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 gnus



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