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lemur

[lee-mer]
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noun
  1. any of various small, arboreal, chiefly nocturnal mammals of the family Lemuridae, of Madagascar and the Comoro Islands, especially of the genus Lemur, usually having large eyes, a foxlike face, and woolly fur: most lemurs are endangered.
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Origin of lemur

1790–1800; < New Latin, apparently special use of Latin lemurēs (plural) ghosts, specters
Related formsle·mur·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

baboonapelemurchimpanzeegorillaorangutanrascalmonkimpscampsimiananthropoidmanmonkeyhumanmammal

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Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for lemur

lemur

noun
  1. any Madagascan prosimian primate of the family Lemuridae, such as Lemur catta (the ring-tailed lemur). They are typically arboreal, having foxy faces and long tails
  2. any similar or closely related animal, such as a loris or indris
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Derived Formslemur-like, adjective

Word Origin

C18: New Latin, adapted from Latin lemurēs ghosts; so named by Linnaeus for its ghost-like face and nocturnal habits
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 lemur

n.

nocturnal Madagascar mammal, 1795, coined by Linnaeus, from Latin lemures (plural) "spirits of the dead" in Roman mythology.

The oldest usage of "lemur" for a primate that we are aware of is in Linnaeus's catalog of the Museum of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (Tattersall, 1982); .... In this work, he explained his use of the name "lemur" thus: "Lemures dixi hos, quod noctu imprimis obambulant, hominibus quodanmodo similes, & lento passu vagantur [I call them lemurs, because they go around mainly by night, in a certain way similar to humans, and roam with a slow pace]" [Dunkel, Alexander R., et al., "Giant rabbits, marmosets, and British comedies: etymology of lemur names, part 1," in "Lemur News," vol. 16, 2011-2012, p.65]

Lemuria (1864) was the name given by English zoologist P.L. Sclater (1829-1913) to a hypothetical ancient continent connecting Africa and Southeastern Asia (and including Madagascar), which was hypothesized to explain phenomena now accounted for by continental drift. Earlier it was the name of the Roman feast of the Lemures.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper