hippo, noun

Also with initial capital.
EnglishShow more Special sense of colloquial English hippo hippopotamus; one of a series of animal names used for such vehicles, perhaps alluding to its shape or size.
An armoured vehicle used by the police as a personnel-carrier. Also attributive. See also buffel sense 2, Mary Decker sense a, Zola Budd sense a.
1976 Drum July 28Rocks were thrown. Shots were fired. And the anti-terrorist squad came onto the scene in their hippos.
1976 E. Prov. Herald 2 Aug. 2Some pupils associated the ‘hippo’ trucks and camouflage uniforms with shootings and these reminded them of their dead colleagues.
1976 E. Prov. Herald 5 Aug. 1Police..swarmed into Soweto in vehicles ranging from conventional vans to ‘Hippo’ personnel carriers.
1977 J. Hoffman in Quarry ’77 55Pictures from the air showed students (marchers) moving around obstacles (police, hippos or buildings), regrouping and persisting in their flow to distant Johannesburg.
1982 Jane’s Armour & Artillery 1982–3 316South Africa has a large number of locally built 6x4, 4x4 and 4x2 APCs used primarily for internal security operations. These have various names such as Hippo and Rhino.
1984 D. Pinnock Brotherhoods 81The first urban units were formed as Riot Squads early in 1976 and soon forced their way to public attention as the men in camouflage and Hippo gun-wagons at the heart of the Soweto upheavals in June that year.
1985 S. Trentbridge-Smith in Frontline Dec. 11Every time some poor little black boy stays home from school PW sends in five casspirs, six hippos and three helicopters to smoke the little beggar out.
1988 K. Barris Small Change 78There was a Hippo pulled off the road — a high, armoured, mine-proof vehicle.
1991 Weekly Mail 24 May 8Witnesses say they saw police hippos in the area, either just before the shooting began or just afterwards.
An armoured vehicle used by the police as a personnel-carrier. Also attributive.
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