[hip-uh-pot-uh-muh s]

noun, plural hip·po·pot·a·mus·es, hip·po·pot·a·mi [hip-uh-pot-uh-mahy] /ˌhɪp əˈpɒt əˌmaɪ/.

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.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for hippopotamus

Contemporary Examples of hippopotamus

  • I'm not the hippopotamus I think I am when I'm comparing myself to Blake Lively.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Fat Wars

    Marisa Meltzer

    May 19, 2009

Historical Examples of hippopotamus

  • Just think of the Hippopotamus, the horse or "hippos" that lives in the rivers.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • It was as if a dweller in a Harlem flat had been presented with a hippopotamus.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • You have never tried to demonstrate to a hypnotic that a table is not a hippopotamus.

  • It was voted by acclamation, that Hippopotamus was agreeable to the company.

  • "I don't believe you ever had a $100 bill," growled the Hippopotamus.

    Andiron Tales

    John Kendrick Bangs

British Dictionary definitions for hippopotamus


noun plural -muses or -mi (-ˌmaɪ)

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
pigmy hippopotamus a related but smaller animal, Choeropsis liberiensis

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 hippopotamus

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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper