from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of several swift African mammals of the genus Equus, resembling the horse and having distinctive overall markings of alternating white and black or brown stripes.
  • noun Any of various striped organisms, such as a zebrafish.
  • noun A referee in football.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A name used by fish-culturists in England for hybrids between Salmo fario, the European trout, and Salmo fontinalis, the American brook-trout.
  • noun An American heliconiid butterfly, Apostraphia charithonia, with black, yellow-banded wings. It occurs in Central America, the West Indies, and the southern United States. Its larvæ feed on the passion-flower vine.
  • noun An African solidungulate mammal, related to the horse and ass, of the genus Equus and subgenus Hippotigris, having the body more or less completely striped.
  • Resembling the stripes of a zebra; having stripes running along the sides: as, the zebra markings on certain spiders.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any member of three species of African wild horses remarkable for having the body white or yellowish white, and conspicuously marked with dark brown or brackish bands.
  • noun the larva of an American noctuid moth (Mamestra picta). It is light yellow, with a broad black stripe on the back and one on each side; the lateral stripes are crossed with withe lines. It feeds on cabbages, beets, clover, and other cultivated plants.
  • noun the zebra wolf. See under Wolf.
  • noun an Australian grass parrakeet, often kept as a cage bird. Its upper parts are mostly pale greenish yellow, transversely barred with brownish black crescents; the under parts, rump, and upper tail coverts, are bright green; two central tail feathers and the cheek patches are blue. Called also canary parrot, scallop parrot, shell parrot, and undulated parrot.
  • noun (Bot.) a poisonous tree (Euphorbia arborea) of the Spurge family, found in South Africa. Its milky juice is so poisonous that zebras have been killed by drinking water in which its branches had been placed, and it is also used as an arrow poison.
  • noun Same as Tiger shark, under Tiger.
  • noun a hunting spider.
  • noun a very large North American swallow-tailed butterfly (Iphiclides ajax), in which the wings are yellow, barred with black; -- called also ajax.
  • noun See under Wolf.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An African animal, closely related to a horse, with black and white stripes.
  • noun sports, slang A referee.
  • noun medicine, slang An unlikely diagnosis, especially for symptoms probably caused by a common ailment. (Originates in the advice often given to medical students: "When you hear hoof beats, think of horses, not zebras.")
  • noun vulgar, pejorative, slang A bi-racial person, specifically one born to a member of the Sub-Saharan African race and a Caucasian.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun any of several fleet black-and-white striped African equines


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Italian, from Portuguese zevra, from Old Portuguese zevro, zevra, wild ass, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *eciferus, alteration of Latin equiferus, a kind of wild horse : equus, horse; see equine + ferus, wild; see feral. Sense 3, from the referee's striped shirt.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Congolese word for the animal (possibly meaning striped) via Old Portuguese zevra. This etymology is disputed.


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  • “A zebra is a horse designed by committee.�?

    December 10, 2007