gnu, noun1

gneu, gnoeShow more Also gneu, gnoe, gnoo, gnou, knoo, n’gou, nhoo, and with initial capital.
unchanged, or gnus.
Khoikhoi, San, Show more Khoikhoi and San, perhaps onomatopoeic, imitating the snort of the animal when alarmed; variously written gnu, !nu, !no:, representing the pronunciations /qɪ̃uː/, //, /-ɔ(ː)/; probably originally related to Khoikhoi and San ≠nu black. It appears that the Khoikhoi and San distinguished between !nu, etc. black wildebeest, and San /gaob, Khoikhoi /goab blue wildebeest.
a. wildebeest sense a.
[1777 G. Forster Voy. round World I. 83There is another species of wild ox, called by the natives gnoo.]
1985 C. Walker Signs of Wild (1987) 189The name Gnu is derived from the Hottentot word referring to the sound it makes.
b. With distinguishing epithet:
black gnu, black wildebeest (see wildebeest sense b);
brindled gnu, blue wildebeest (see wildebeest sense b);
white-tailed gnu, black wildebeest (see wildebeest sense b).
1866 J. Leyland Adventures 75A troop of Veldebeests, or Black Gnoos, came..past.
1990 Skinner & Smithers Mammals of Sn Afr. Subregion 612The characteristic and most obvious feature of black wildebeest is their white tails and often they are referred to as white-tailed wildebeest or white-tailed gnu.

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