[ zee-bruh; British also zeb-ruh ]
/ ˈzi brə; British also ˈzɛb rə /

noun, plural ze·bras, (especially collectively) ze·bra.

any of several horselike African mammals of the genus Equus, each species having a characteristic pattern of black or dark-brown stripes on a whitish background: all zebra species are threatened or endangered.
Also called zebra butterfly. a tropical butterfly, Heliconius charithonius, having black wings barred with yellow.
(initial capital letter) a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Z.
Football Slang. an official, who usually wears a black and white striped shirt.

Nearby words

  1. zeami,
  2. zeatin,
  3. zebec,
  4. zebedee,
  5. zeboim,
  6. zebra body,
  7. zebra crossing,
  8. zebra finch,
  9. zebra label,
  10. zebra mussel

Origin of zebra

1590–1600; 1975–80 for def 4; < Portuguese zebra, zebro the Iberian wild ass (Spanish cebra), perhaps < Latin equiferus (Pliny) kind of wild horse, equivalent to equi- (combining form of equus horse) + ferus wild

Related formsze·bra·like, ze·bra·ic [zi-brey-ik] /zɪˈbreɪ ɪk/, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for zebra

British Dictionary definitions for zebra


/ (ˈziːbrə, ˈzɛbrə) /

noun plural -ras or -ra

any of several mammals of the horse family (Equidae), such as Equus burchelli (the common zebra), of southern and eastern Africa, having distinctive black-and-white striped hides
Derived Formszebra-like or zebraic (zɪˈbreɪɪk), adjectivezebrine (ˈziːbraɪn, ˈzɛb-) or zebroid, adjective

Word Origin for zebra

C16: via Italian from Old Spanish: wild ass, probably from Vulgar Latin eciferus (unattested) wild horse, from Latin equiferus, from equus horse + ferus wild


/ (ˈziːbrə, ˈzɛbrə) /

noun finance

a noninterest-paying bond in which the accrued income is taxed annually rather than on redemptionCompare zero (def. 12)

Word Origin for Zebra

C20: from zero-coupon bond

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 zebra



c.1600, from Italian zebra, perhaps via Portuguese, earlier applied to a now-extinct wild ass, said to be Congolese [OED], or Amharic [Klein], but perhaps ultimately from Latin equiferus "wild horse," from equus "horse" (see equine) + ferus (see fierce).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper