[ ham-ster ]
/ ˈhæm stər /
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any of several short-tailed, stout-bodied, burrowing rodents, as Cricetus cricetus, of Europe and Asia, having large cheek pouches.
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Origin of hamster

1600–10; <German; compare Old High German hamastro,Old Saxon hamstra weevil
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


Where does the word hamster come from?

The name for those adorable, fluffy, little chipmunk-cheeked rodents known as hamsters hails from German. Hamster was borrowed directly from the German Hamster in the early 1600s.

We consider hamsters as the hipsters of the rodent world. Just because we can. For the sheer fun of wordplay. Alas, the -ster suffix in hipster is unrelated to the letters -ster in hamster.

Now that you know how hamsters got their name, why not find out how some of our other most beloved pets got theirs in the slideshow: “Where Do The Words For Our Pets Come From?”

Did you know … ?

While there are nearly 20 species of hamsters, the one most commonly kept as pets is the Syrian hamster, also known as the golden hamster.

Incredibly, Syrian hamsters kept as pets today trace their ancestry—um, “hamcestry”?—back to a single female wild hamster that was caught in Aleppo, Syria, in 1930, which was then bred and spread around the world.

How to use hamster in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for hamster

/ (ˈhæmstə) /

any Eurasian burrowing rodent of the tribe Cricetini, such as Mesocricetus auratus (golden hamster), having a stocky body, short tail, and cheek pouches: family Cricetidae. They are popular pets

Word Origin for hamster

C17: from German, from Old High German hamustro, of Slavic origin
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