Other Word Forms of Zebra
Origin of Zebra
Italian 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 equine ferus wild feral Sense 3, from the referee's striped shirt
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
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.
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).
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