[ zee-bruh; British also zeb-ruh ]

noun,plural ze·bras, (especially collectively) ze·bra.
  1. 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.

  2. Also called ze·bra but·ter·fly. a tropical butterfly, Heliconius charithonius, having black wings barred with yellow.

  1. (initial capital letter) a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter Z.

  2. Football Slang. an official, who usually wears a black and white striped shirt.

  3. British. zebra crossing.

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

Other words from zebra

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

Words Nearby zebra

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

How to use zebra in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for zebra (1 of 2)


/ (ˈziːbrə, ˈzɛbrə) /

nounplural -ras or -ra
  1. 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

Origin of 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

Derived forms of zebra

  • zebra-like or zebraic (zɪˈbreɪɪk), adjective
  • zebrine (ˈziːbraɪn, ˈzɛb-) or zebroid, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Zebra (2 of 2)


/ (ˈziːbrə, ˈzɛbrə) /

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

Origin of 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