How Did the Hippopotamus Get its Name and What Does it Mean in Greek?

The hippopotamus, or hippo for short, got its name from the ancient Greek words ἵππος (hippos), which means “horse”, and ποταμός, (potamos), for “river”, and put together meaning “horse of the river”.

hippopotamus means water horse

The plural for hippopotamus in English is hippopotamuses, but hippopotami is also acceptable.

A male hippopotamus is known as a bull, a female as a cow and a baby as a calf.

The species is also known as the Common Hippopotamus or the Nile Hippopotamus.

Hippopotamuses are gregarious, living in groups of about 30 animals, and these groups are called pods, herds, dale or bloats.

Hippopotamuses are the third largest mammals in the world after whales and elephants.

The most recent theory suggests that the hippopotamus evolved from whales, and the group likely split into two separate branches around 54 million years ago.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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