Definition of hippopotamus in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌhipəˈpädəməs/

noun (plural hippopotamuses or hippopotami /-ˌmī/ /-ˌmē/)

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.
Example sentences
  • 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.


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

  • equestrian from mid 17th century:

    Both equestrian and equine (late 18th century) ‘like a horse’ are from Latin equus ‘horse’, a word that goes right back to the earliest times—unsurprisingly, as horses would have been so important to ancient peoples. Its root was also the source of the Greek equivalent to equus, hippos, which is where we get hippopotamus or ‘river horse’.

Words that rhyme with hippopotamus

dichotomous, trichotomous

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hip·po·pot·a·mus

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