A large dark antelope with a long head, a beard and mane, and a sloping back.
Genus Connochaetes, family Bovidae: two species, in particular the abundant brindled gnu or blue wildebeest (C. taurinus)
- ‘In eastern Africa, they mostly hunt Thomson's gazelles, but they will also attack calves, warthogs, zebras, impalas, and the young of large antelopes such as the gnu.’
- ‘Every February, give or take a couple of weeks, more than a million wildebeest, or gnus, gather in the south-eastern quadrant of their quasi-circular migration route.’
- ‘With his travelling companions he stood on a hill looking down on the savannah stretching to the far horizon, gigantic herds of gazelle, antelope, gnu, zebra, and warthog grazing and moving forwards like slow rivers.’
- ‘These people usually have a large, handsome predator in mind, a lion or a cheetah (the life of a gnu or an aardvark are rarely exalted).’
- ‘White-tailed gnus today live fenced into farm pastures and trapped in mostly small provincial game reserves.’
Late 18th century from Khoikhoi and San, perhaps imitative of the sound made by the animal when alarmed.
nounmass nounTrademark; Computing
An operating system similar to Unix with a collection of compatible software, developed and distributed as a free alternative to commercial systems.
1980s from the initial letters of GNU's not Unix (on the pattern of earlier acronyms for computer programs in which the name itself appears in the phrase), the name being thought appropriately amusing because of the humorous connotations of the word gnu.