noun, plural kan·ga·roos, (especially collectively) kan·ga·roo.

any herbivorous marsupial of the family Macropodidae, of Australia and adjacent islands, having a small head, short forelimbs, powerful hind legs used for leaping, and a long, thick tail: several species are threatened or endangered.

Origin of kangaroo

1760–70; < Guugu Yimidhirr (Australian Aboriginal language spoken around Cooktown, N Queensland) gaŋ-urru large black or gray species of kangaroo
Related formskan·ga·roo·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kangaroo

wombat, koala, kangaroo, possum, opossum, wallaby, bandicoot, euro

Examples from the Web for kangaroo

Contemporary Examples of kangaroo

Historical Examples of kangaroo

  • But in the kangaroo figure, the burden is slightly shifted and naught is amiss.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • A little higher in the scale stand the kangaroo and the opossum.

    The Meaning of Evolution

    Samuel Christian Schmucker

  • He jumps here and there like a kangaroo when he goes on one of his scouting trips.

    Mixed Faces

    Roy Norton

  • "Only I did so want to dress up as a kangaroo," mourned Joan dolefully.

  • But the most interesting event of the day, by far, was the kangaroo hunt.

British Dictionary definitions for kangaroo


noun plural -roos

any large herbivorous marsupial of the genus Macropus and related genera, of Australia and New Guinea, having large powerful hind legs, used for leaping, and a long thick tail: family MacropodidaeSee also rat kangaroo, tree kangaroo
(usually plural) stock exchange an Australian share, esp in mining, land, or a tobacco company

verb -roos, -rooing or -rooed

informal (of a car) to move forward or to cause (a car) to move forward with short sudden jerks, as a result of improper use of the clutch
Derived Formskangaroo-like, adjective

Word Origin for kangaroo

C18: probably from a native Australian language
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 kangaroo

1770, used by Capt. Cook and botanist Joseph Banks, supposedly an aborigine word from northeast Queensland, Australia, usually said to be unknown now in any native language. However, according to Australian linguist R.M.W. Dixon ("The Languages of Australia," Cambridge, 1980), the word probably is from Guugu Yimidhirr (Endeavour River-area Aborigine language) /gaNurru/ "large black kangaroo."

In 1898 the pioneer ethnologist W.E. Roth wrote a letter to the Australasian pointing out that gang-oo-roo did mean 'kangaroo' in Guugu Yimidhirr, but this newspaper correspondence went unnoticed by lexicographers. Finally the observations of Cook and Roth were confirmed when in 1972 the anthropologist John Haviland began intensive study of Guugu Yimidhirr and again recorded /gaNurru/. [Dixon]

Kangaroo court is American English, first recorded 1850 in a Southwestern context (also mustang court), from notion of proceeding by leaps.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper