7 entries found for buffalo.
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Main Entry: buf·fa·lo
Inflected Form(s): plural -loor -loes
Etymology: from Italian bufalo and Spanish búfalo, both meaning "wild ox," from Latin bubalus, bufalus "wild ox, African gazelle," from Greek boubalos "African gazelle," probably from bous "ox, cow" --related to BUTTER : any of several wild mammals related to oxen: as a: WATER BUFFALOb: CAPE BUFFALOc: a large shaggy-maned North American mammal with short horns and heavy forequarters with a large muscular hump Word History The Greeks traveled over much of the ancient world, and Greek authors gave names to a number of unfamiliar animals. The African gazelle they called boubalos, apparently deriving part of the name from the Greek word bous, meaning "ox." Later the Romans borrowed this Greek word, which they used for "gazelle" and for "wild ox." In Latin the form was first bubalus and later bufalus. This Latin word for wild ox later passed into Italian as bufalo and into Spanish as búfalo. From these languages the English picked it up and gave it the spelling buffalo. When English settlers arrived in America, they gave the name buffalo to the big, shaggy animal that scientists prefer to call bison. [buffalo illustration]