walrus

walrus
\ \ [17] Etymologically, a walrus is probably a ‘whale-horse’. The word seems to have been borrowed from Dutch walrus, which was an inversion of a presumed prehistoric Germanic compound represented by Old English horschwæl and Old Norse hrosshvalr. (The inversion may have been due to the influence of Dutch walvischwhale’ – literally ‘whale-fish’ – but it could also owe something to French influence, since French noun compounds of this sort are often in the reverse order to corresponding Germanic ones.) The element wal- is clearly the same word as whale, and -rus is generally assumed to be horse. It has, however, been suggested that the horsc- of the Old English term was an alteration of morsa, a name for the walrus of Lappish origin which is also the source of French morsewalrus’.
\ \ Cf.HORSE, WHALE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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Synonyms:
, , (Trichechus rosmarus)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Walrus — Wal rus, n. [D. walrus; of Scand. origin; cf. Dan valros, Sw. vallross, Norw. hvalros; literally, whale horse; akin to Icel. hrosshvalr, AS. horshw[ae]l. See {Whale}, and {Horse}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A very large marine mammal ({Trichecus rosmarus}) of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • walrus — 1650s, from Du. walrus, which was probably a folk etymology alteration (by influence of Du. walvis whale and ros horse ) of a Scandinavian word, such as O.N. rosmhvalr walrus, hrosshvalr a kind of whale, or rostungr walrus. O.E. had horschwæl,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • walrus — [wôl′rəs] n. pl. walruses or walrus [Du < Dan hvalros, prob. by metathesis < ON hrosshvalr, lit., horse whale < hross, akin to OE hros, horse + hvalr, WHALE1] a massive, arctic sea carnivore (Odobenus rosmarus) of the same family… …   English World dictionary

  • walrus — ► NOUN ▪ a large marine mammal having two large downward pointing tusks, found in the Arctic Ocean. ORIGIN probably Dutch, perhaps from an Old Norse word meaning horse whale …   English terms dictionary

  • Walrus — For other uses, see Walrus (disambiguation). Walrus[1] …   Wikipedia

  • walrus — /wawl reuhs, wol /, n., pl. walruses, (esp. collectively) walrus. a large marine mammal, Odobenus nosmarus, of arctic seas, related to the seals, and having flippers, a pair of large tusks, and a tough, wrinkled skin. [1645 55; < D: lit., whale… …   Universalium

  • Walrus — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sur les autres projets Wikimedia : « Walrus », sur le Wiktionnaire (dictionnaire universel) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • walrus — [17] Etymologically, a walrus is probably a ‘whale horse’. The word seems to have been borrowed from Dutch walrus, which was an inversion of a presumed prehistoric Germanic compound represented by Old English horschwæl and Old Norse hrosshvalr.… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • walrus —    Used in American slang since the 1920s, according to Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang, to refer to a short, fat person.    British speakers of English would probably associate the word with the walrus moustache, which hangs down both… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • walrus — noun (plural walrus or walruses) Etymology: Dutch, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish & Norwegian hvalros walrus, Old Norse rosmhvalr Date: 1728 a large gregarious marine mammal (Odobenus rosmarus of the family Odobenidae) of arctic waters… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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