buffalo, noun

Forms:
Also buffalow.
Origin:
EnglishShow more Transferred use of English buffalo (in OED first denoting the Asian buffalo, 1588).
1. The undomesticated bovine Syncerus caffer (family Bovidae); buffel sense 1 a; Cape buffalo, see Cape sense 2 a. Also attributive.
1699 W. Rogers in W. Dampier New Voy. round World (1705) II. 109Buffaloes and Bullocks only are kept tame.
1798 S.H. Wilcocke tr. of J.S. Stavorinus’s Voy. to E. Indies I. 558The wild animals, which are found in the country, and among which the lion, the tiger, the leopard, the buffalo, and the ape are enumerated, are now far removed from the Cape, and are seldom seen near it.
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 250The name of buffalo, presents another example of the misapplication of European names to the wild animals of Southern Africa.
1834 T. Pringle Afr. Sketches 270The buffalo is a very formidable and powerful animal. He is considerably larger than the domestic ox.
1847 J. Barrow Autobiog. Memoir 160One of the farmer’s Hottentots brought down a large male buffalo (Bos Caffer), the strongest and the fiercest of the bovine genus.
1858 T. Shone Diary. 13 Jan.Henry and the boy’s was hunting the Buffalow.
1900 W.L. Sclater Mammals of S. Afr. I. 258The buffalo is generally reckoned the most dangerous of South African animals.
1955 A. Delius Young Trav. in S. Afr. 151There were brown wooly buffaloes, big dangerous-looking creatures.
1990 Skinner & Smithers Mammals of Sn Afr. Subregion 685Disease and climatic factors affecting the habitat, rather than predation, are the most serious factors regulating buffalo numbers.
2. combinations
buffalo bird ?obsolete [probably a translation of South African Dutch buffelvogel, buffel buffalo + vogel bird], oxpecker;
buffalo thorn [probably a translation of South African Dutch buffelsdoorn, buffel buffalo + linking phoneme -s- + doorn thorn], the small indigenous tree Ziziphus mucronata subspecies mucronata of the Rhamnaceae; blinkblaar-wag-’n-bietjie; buffelsdoorn, see buffel sense 1 b; cat-thorn sense 2 b; also called wag-’n-bietjie.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 113Observed the buffalo-birds very busily employed, perched upon the backs of the oxen; they are generally found where cattle or buffaloes are numerous, living upon the insect which they find in their coats; they are larger than a swallow, with a thick red bill.
1857 D. Livingstone Missionary Trav. 545Buffalo-birds act the part of guardian spirits to the animals.
[1896 H.A. Bryden Tales of S. Afr. 236Numbers of the weaver birds (Bubalornis erythorhyncus) always found associating with buffalo, are here...A few white egrets, apparently as fearless of the great quadrupeds as the buffalo birds, add beauty to the scene.]
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 20Our good-fortune conducted us by a solitary Buffalo-thorn (Buffel doorn) where we found a small pond of fresh water.
1917 R. Marloth Dict. of Common Names of Plants 16Buffelsdoorn, (Buffalothorn), Zizyphus mucronata. Bears several other names, e.g. Wacht-een-bietje.
1929 J. Stevenson-Hamilton Low-Veld 50The trees are mainly acacias or buffalo thorn (Zizyphus mucronata), equipped for the most part with an armament of hooks and spikes which must be seen to be believed.
1958 R.E. Lighton Out of Strong 100In the hollows the apiesdorings spread their branches above copses of rough-barked, russet-leaved tambootie trees and glossy green buffalo thorns.
1961 Palmer & Pitman Trees of S. Afr. 259The buffalo-thorn, or as it is more frequently known, the blinkblaar-wag-’n-bietjie, is a familiar tree or shrub in many parts of South Africa.
1976 E. Prov. Herald 21 Oct. 4Invader plants that caused the greatest problem in the mountainous parts of the Eastern Karroo Region were the broom bush, taaibos or kraaibossie, leucosidea, rhinoceros bush, resin bush and buffalo thorn.
1990 L. Van Hoven in S. Afr. Panorama MayJune 27The main kraal of the mighty..Zulu king, Shaka, among hills and buffalo-thorn.
1991 Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (Reader’s Digest Assoc.) 104The buffalo thorn..was another source of medicine. A poultice of the powdered and baked roots was applied to relieve pain, and skin infections were treated with a paste made from the leaves.
The undomesticated bovine Syncerus caffer (family Bovidae); buffel1 a; Cape buffalo, see Cape2 a. Also attributive.

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16991991