Definition of zebra in English:


Syllabification: ze·bra
Pronunciation: /ˈzēbrə


  • 1An African wild horse with black-and-white stripes and an erect mane.
    • Genus Equus, family Equidae: three species, the common zebra (E. burchellii), Grevy’s zebra (E. grevyi), and the mountain zebra (E. zebra) . See also quagga
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    • The Cape Colony extended systematic protection to elephants, giraffes, hippopotami, buffalo, zebras, quaggas and antelopes in 1886.
    • This family, made up of the horses, asses and zebras, contains one genus with nine species.
    • The route of the safari will allow visitors to see for themselves a wide variety of African wildlife including lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees and many other species.
  • 2A large butterfly with pale bold stripes on a dark background, in particular.
    • a yellow and black American butterfly (Heliconius charitonius, subfamily Heliconiinae, family Nymphalidae).
    More example sentences
    • The refuge provides shelter and habitat for more than 300 butterfly species, including the zebra longwing, pipevine swallowtail, julia, and Mexican blue wing.
    • The zebra longwing butterflies entertained me and a lot of other folks that summer and fall.
  • 3 (also zebra fish) South African A silvery-gold sea bream with vertical black stripes.
    • Diplodus cervinus, family Sparidae
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    • He brought to our attention the tiny zebra fish which could fully regenerate even severely damaged myocardium.
    • It is a blending of DNA from a zebra fish and either a jellyfish or sea anemone.
    • The company screens compounds for medical uses using zebra fish embryonic cells and fruitflies.
  • 4 informal A person whose characteristic garb is a black-and-white striped uniform, especially a football official or a convict.
    More example sentences
    • Chad Brown, a boy hell-raiser turned football player turned NFL zebra, now plays the toughest position on the field.


early 17th century: from Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese, originally in the sense 'wild ass', perhaps ultimately from Latin equiferus, from equus 'horse' + ferus 'wild'.

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