• synonyms


[sur-vuh l]
noun, plural ser·vals, (especially collectively) ser·val.
  1. a long-limbed, nocturnal African cat, Felis serval, about the size of a bobcat, having a tawny coat spotted with black: now rare in many former habitats.
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Origin of serval

1765–75; < New Latin < Portuguese (lobo) cerval lynx, literally, staglike (wolf) < Late Latin cervālis deerlike, equivalent to Latin cerv(us) stag + -ālis -al1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for serval

Historical Examples

  • Among them was that of a leopard, an ant bear, and a serval cat.

    The Forest of Mystery

    James H. Foster

  • So Paka ate of the crabs, and she followed the serval many days.

  • Till one day there came a leopard and fought with the serval and killed him.

  • With a convulsive wriggle the serval made a last attempt to bury its fangs in its victim's neck.


    Herbert Strang

  • The Serval is a spotted cat—black upon a pale-yellowish ground—and considerably larger than the domestic species.

British Dictionary definitions for serval


noun plural -vals or -val
  1. a slender feline mammal, Felis serval, of the African bush, having an orange-brown coat with black spots, large ears, and long legs
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Word Origin

C18: via French from Late Latin cervālis staglike, from Latin cervus a stag
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 serval


African wild cat, 1771, from Modern Latin serval, French serval (Buffon, 1765), from Portuguese (lobo) cerval "lynx," from Latin lupus cervarius (cf. French loup cervier) "lynx," literally "wolf that hunts the stag," from cervarius "pertaining to a stag," from cervus "stag" (see horn (n.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper