• synonyms


[hip-uh-pot-uh-muh s]
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noun, plural hip·po·pot·a·mus·es, hip·po·pot·a·mi [hip-uh-pot-uh-mahy] /ˌhɪp əˈpɒt əˌmaɪ/.
  1. a large herbivorous mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, having a thick hairless body, short legs, and a large head and muzzle, found in and near the rivers, lakes, etc., of Africa, and able to remain under water for a considerable time.
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Origin of hippopotamus

1555–65; < Latin < Greek hippopótamos, earlier híppos potámios literally, riverine horse (term used by Herodotus in his account of the Egyptian hippopotamus); compare Middle English ypotame, ypotamos, ypotanus < Old French ypotame < Medieval Latin ypotamus
Related formship·po·po·tam·ic [hip-uh-puh-tam-ik] /ˌhɪp ə pəˈtæm ɪk/, hip·po·po·ta·mi·an [hip-uh-puh-tey-mee-uh n] /ˌhɪp ə pəˈteɪ mi ən/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hippopotami

mammoth, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, mastodon, hog, horse, cow, pig, swine, cattle, tapir, camel, deer, giraffe, llama, buffalo

Examples from the Web for hippopotami

Historical Examples of hippopotami

  • She was overjoyed; there were no comparisons with hippopotami in HER mind.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Hippopotami lay snorting unconcernedly in a stream that was crossed.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • There were six rivers to cross, full (says Isaaco) of alligators and hippopotami.

  • His thief object was to find a country frequented by hippopotami and giraffes.

  • There was no fear, no rivalry, and no enmity between them and the hippopotami.

    Tales of Space and Time

    Herbert George Wells

British Dictionary definitions for hippopotami


noun plural -muses or -mi (-ˌmaɪ)
  1. a very large massive gregarious artiodactyl mammal, Hippopotamus amphibius, living in or around the rivers of tropical Africa: family Hippopotamidae. It has short legs and a thick skin sparsely covered with hair
  2. pigmy hippopotamus a related but smaller animal, Choeropsis liberiensis
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Word Origin for hippopotamus

C16: from Latin, from Greek hippopotamos river horse, from hippos horse + potamos river
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 hippopotami



1560s, from Late Latin hippopotamus, from Greek hippopotamus "riverhorse" (earlier ho hippos ho potamios "the horse of the river"), from hippos "horse" (see equine) + potamos "river, rushing water" (see potamo-). Replaced Middle English ypotame (c.1300), which is from the same source but via Old French. Glossed in Old English as sæhengest.

Ypotamos comen flyngynge. ... Grete bestes and griselich ["Kyng Alisaunder," c.1300]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper