[tey-per, tuh-peer]

noun, plural ta·pirs, (especially collectively) ta·pir.

any of several large, stout, three-toed ungulates of the family Tapiridae, of Central and South America, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra, somewhat resembling swine and having a long, flexible snout: all species are threatened or endangered.

Origin of tapir

1560–70;Tupi tapira
Can be confusedtaper tapir
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for tapir


noun plural -pirs or -pir

any perissodactyl mammal of the genus Tapirus, such as T. indicus (Malayan tapir), of South and Central America and SE Asia, having an elongated snout, three-toed hind legs, and four-toed forelegs: family Tapiridae

Word Origin for tapir

C18: from Tupi tapiira
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 tapir

1774, perhaps from French tapir (1580), ultimately from Tupi (Brazil) tapira.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper