nounpl. -·bras or -·bra
- any of several swift African perissodactylous mammals (family Equidae) of the same genus (Equus) as the horse and ass, having an erect mane and distinctive patterns of black and white stripes
- a butterfly (Heliconius charitonius) with black wings crossed by several yellowish bandsin full zebra butterfly
- Slang, Sports a referee who wears a vertically striped black-and-white shirt
Origin of zebraPort, zebra, earlier used of a wild ass (now extinct): said to be of Congolese origin, originally , but probably ultimately from Classical Latin equiferus, wild horse from equus (see hippo-) + ferus (see fierce)
- Any of several swift African mammals of the genus Equus, resembling the horse and having distinctive overall markings of alternating white and black or brown stripes.
- Any of various striped organisms, such as a zebrafish.
- A referee in football.
Origin of zebraItalian from Portuguese zevra from Old Portuguese zevro, zevra wild ass perhaps from Vulgar Latin eciferus alteration of Latin equiferus a kind of wild horse equus horse ; see equine . ferus wild ; see feral . Sense 3, from the referee's striped shirt
- Any of three species of genus Equus: E. grevyi, E. quagga, or E. zebra, all with black and white stripes and native to Africa.
- (sports, slang) A referee.
- (medicine, slang) An unlikely diagnosis, especially for symptoms probably caused by a common ailment. (Originates in the advice often given to medical students: "When you hear hoof beats, think of horses, not zebras.")
- (vulgar, pejorative, slang) A bi-racial person, specifically one born to a member of the Sub-Saharan African race and a Caucasian.
1600; from Italian zebra, from Portuguese zebra, zebro (“zebra"), from Old Portuguese enzebro, ezebra, azebra (“wild ass"), from earlier cebrario (882), ezebrario (897), from Vulgar Latin *eciferus, from Latin equiferus (“wild horse") (Pliny).
(biracial person): The term zebra, as used in its pejorative sense, was popularized on the television situation comedy The Jeffersons. The term was used by the series protagonist, George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley), to express disdain for his daughter-in-law, Jenny Willis Jefferson, whose father was white and mother was black.
While the word was traditionally pronounced with a long initial vowel in standard English, during the twentieth century a vowel shift occurred in regions of England, with the adoption of an initial short vowel. This pronunciation is now used throughout the UK and Commonwealth. The long vowel pronunciation remains standard in American English.
zebra - Computer Definition
(1) A connector with zebra-like stripes. See elastomeric connector.
(2) A printer command language from Zebra Technologies. The Zebra programming language (ZPL) is used to print labels and barcodes.
(3) An early computer designed by Dutch computer pioneer W. L. Van der Pool and manufactured by Standard Telephones and Cables Limited in England. First placed in service in 1958, a few dozen units were sold in the U.K. and Europe.