[ roo-muh-nuhnt ]
/ ˈru mə nənt /
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any even-toed, hoofed mammal of the suborder Ruminantia, being comprised of cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing quadrupeds, and including, besides domestic cattle, bison, buffalo, deer, antelopes, giraffes, camels, and chevrotains.
ruminating; chewing the cud.
contemplative; meditative: a ruminant scholar.
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Origin of ruminant

1655–65; <Latin rūminant- (stem of rūmināns, present participle of rūminārī, rūmināre to chew cud, meditate), equivalent to rūmin- (stem of rūmen) rumen + -ant--ant


ru·mi·nant·ly, adverbnon·ru·mi·nant, noun, adjectiveun·ru·mi·nant, adjective

Words nearby ruminant

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does ruminant mean?

A ruminant is an even-toed, hoofed, four-legged mammal that eats grass and other plants. Ruminants include domestic cattle (cows), sheep, goats, bison, buffalo, deer, antelopes, giraffes, and camels.

Ruminants typically have a stomach with four compartments. They are known for chewing cud, which is food that has been regurgitated from the first compartment to be chewed again. To chew and rechew in this way is to ruminate, and this process called rumination.

Ruminant can also be used as an adjective to describe such animals.

It can also be used in a figurative way to describe someone who ruminates on things—extensively thinks them over or ponders them. (When used in a figurative way, the verb ruminate and the noun rumination are more commonly used than the adjective ruminant.)

Example: Ruminants typically thrive in grasslands where there is ample space for them to graze.

Where does ruminant come from?

The first records of the word ruminant come from the 1600s. It ultimately derives from the Latin verb rūmināre, meaning “to chew the cud.” Rūmināre comes from the Latin rūmen, which gives us the English rumen—the first of four compartments in the stomach of ruminant animals.

The other three compartments are called the reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Ruminants belong to the suborder Ruminantia and come in many shapes and sizes—from tiny goats to huge bison to tall giraffes. But they have several features in common. They all have hooves with an even number of toes. They’re all four-legged. They often have horns. And they have four-part stomachs that allow them to get nutrients from grass and other plants by regurgitating it and chewing it over again.

You can see how this can be used figuratively: when you ruminate on something, you think about it over and over. In fact, the idioms chew it over and chew the cud both refer to contemplating something for a while.

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How is ruminant used in real life?

The word ruminant is typically used in the context of farming, ranching, and scientific studies about animals.



Try using ruminant!

Is ruminant used correctly in the following sentence? 

Ruminant animals have been domesticated for thousands of years.

How to use ruminant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ruminant

/ (ˈruːmɪnənt) /

any artiodactyl mammal of the suborder Ruminantia, the members of which chew the cud and have a stomach of four compartments, one of which is the rumen. The group includes deer, antelopes, cattle, sheep, and goats
any other animal that chews the cud, such as a camel
of, relating to, or belonging to the suborder Ruminantia
(of members of this suborder and related animals, such as camels) chewing the cud; ruminating
meditating or contemplating in a slow quiet way
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

Scientific definitions for ruminant

[ rōōmə-nənt ]

Any of various even-toed hoofed mammals of the suborder Ruminantia. Ruminants usually have a stomach divided into four compartments (called the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum), and chew a cud consisting of regurgitated, partially digested food. Ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, deer, giraffes, antelopes, and camels.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.