Definition of hippopotamus in English:


nounhippopotamuses, hippopotami

  • A large thick-skinned semiaquatic African mammal, with massive jaws and large tusks.

    Family Hippopotamidae: the very large Hippopotamus amphibius, frequenting rivers and lakes, and the smaller pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), frequenting forests near fresh water in West Africa

    • ‘Arriving in step with East African flora were the creatures of the East African savannas: gazelle, giant deer, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, wart hog.’
    • ‘The Cape Colony extended systematic protection to elephants, giraffes, hippopotami, buffalo, zebras, quaggas and antelopes in 1886.’
    • ‘Animals with relatively short distal bones, such as elephants and hippopotamuses, have more columnar legs and do little running.’
    • ‘Mozambique a great diversity of animal life, including zebras, water buffalo, elephants, giraffes, lions, hippopotami, and crocodiles.’
    • ‘Initial genetic studies have provided evidence that the marine mammals are most closely related to hippopotamuses.’
    • ‘Africans never succeeded in domesticating their animals, like the rhino and the hippopotamus!’
    • ‘The giant hippopotamus is the only aquatic artiodactyl, spending most of its time in water.’
    • ‘These creatures include fish, crocodiles, turtles, hippopotamuses, monkeys, rodents, and antelopes.’
    • ‘This year we have scheduled a tiger, three lynxes, a cheetah, two pumas, a hippopotamus, and 500 rabid rats.’
    • ‘Artiodactyls range from the rabbit-sized ‘mouse deer’ of southeast Asia to the three-ton giant hippopotamus and ten-foot giraffes.’
    • ‘Others - notably of sleek horses, cute lambs, elephants and a hippopotamus - could be auditioning for kitschy animal calendars.’
    • ‘Twenty-two days spent tracking elephants, hippopotamuses, and crocodiles in the Okavango Delta.’
    • ‘The hippopotamus, for example, has declined by 95 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1994, when 30,000 roamed wild.’
    • ‘The name hippopotamus comes from Greek and means ‘river horse.’’
    • ‘And those animals were caught, and as the elephant was drowning, the decision was made to destroy the elephant and also the hippopotamus.’
    • ‘Both could probably fly as well as a helium-filled hippopotamus.’
    • ‘The hippopotamus is perfectly at home in the water, mating and giving birth there.’
    • ‘The presence of the manatee and the hippopotamus in the lower levels of the stratigraphic profile at the Ogoloma site is also significant.’
    • ‘Elephants, ostriches, leopards and lions were imported in the first century B.C., followed by hippopotamus, rhinoceros, camels and giraffes.’
    • ‘Dwarf elephant, hippopotamus and deer disappeared from Mediterranean Islands around the time of human colonization.’


Middle English via Latin from Greek hippopotamos, earlier hippos ho potamios ‘river horse’ (from hippos ‘horse’, potamos ‘river’).