• synonyms


or Kar·roo

noun, plural ka·roos for 2.
  1. a vast plateau in the Republic of South Africa, in Cape of Good Hope province. 100,000 sq. mi. (260,000 sq. km); 3000–4000 feet (900–1200 meters) above sea level.
  2. (lowercase) an arid South African tableland with red clay soil.
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Origin of Karoo

< Afrikaans kar(r)oo < Khoikhoi; compare Xhaeruh, Phaeruh place name recorded in 1689, Nama garo parched, dry, arid, !garo-b desolate waste
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for karoo

Historical Examples

  • The stretches of the Karoo are past, and breakfast at De Aar is in sight.

    The Siege of Mafeking (1900)

    J. Angus Hamilton.

  • We will swap the veldt and the parched Karoo,For the plain and ranges clear.

    War's Brighter Side

    Julian Ralph.

  • We wish our father hadn't brought us to town, and we were out on the karoo.

    The Story of an African Farm

    (AKA Ralph Iron) Olive Schreiner

  • To be reduced to dependence on Karoo grass was a sad fate for the poor quadrupeds.

  • Travelling, even with the variety of emotion which the Karoo excites, is no great comfort in South Africa.

British Dictionary definitions for karoo



noun plural -roos (often not capital)
  1. any of several high arid plateaus in South Africa, esp the Central Karoo and the Little Karoo. The highveld, north of the Central Karoo, is sometimes called the Northern Karoo
  2. a period or rock system in Southern Africa equivalent to the period or system extending from the Upper Carboniferous to the Lower Jurassic: divided into Lower and Upper Karoo
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  1. of, denoting, or formed in the Karoo period
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Word Origin

C18: from Afrikaans karo, probably from Khoikhoi garo desert
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 karoo


"barren table land in South Africa," 1789, said to be from a Hottentot word.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

karoo in Science


  1. A semiarid plateau. The most well-known karoos cover nearly 400,000 sq km (156,000 sq mi) of southern Africa. Karoos are terrace shaped and characterized by low scrub vegetation.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.