reindeer

rein·deer (rān’dîr′)
n. pl. reindeer or rein·deers A large deer (Rangifer tarandus) of the Arctic tundra and northern boreal forests, having large hooves and long branched antlers in both sexes, and widely domesticated in Eurasia. Subspecies native to North America and Greenland are usually called caribou.
[Middle English reindere : Old Norse hreinn, reindeer; see ker-1 + Middle English der, animal; see DEER(Cf. deer).]
Word History: The word reindeer has nothing to do with reins. The element -deer in reindeer is indeed our word deer, but the element rein- has a different origin. Rein, "leather strap for guiding animals," comes from Old French resne, while the rein- in reindeer is of Scandinavian origin. Wild reindeer once roamed Great Britain in prehistoric times, but they had become extinct long before the Anglo-Saxons invaded the island, or even before the Celts settled it in ancient times. (The small herd of wild reindeer that currently lives in Scotland descends from animals imported from Scandinavia.) To most people in medieval England and Scotland, the reindeer was a foreign creature living in distant Scandinavia, and it is therefore not surprising that the English name of this animal contains an element borrowed from a Scandinavian source. The rein- in Middle English reindere (Modern English reindeer) comes from the Old Norse word for the reindeer, hreinn.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Reindeer — Rein deer (r?n d?r), n. [Icel. hreinn reindeer + E. deer. Icel. hreinn is of Lapp or Finnish origin; cf. Lappish reino pasturage.] [Formerly written also {raindeer}, and {ranedeer}.] (Zool.) Any ruminant of the genus {Rangifer}, of the Deer… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • reindeer — c.1400, from O.N. hreindyri reindeer, from dyr animal (see DEER (Cf. deer)) + hreinn, the usual name for the animal, from P.Gmc. *khrainaz (Cf. O.E. hran reindeer, Ger. Renn). Probably cognate with Gk. krios ram, but folk etymology associates it… …   Etymology dictionary

  • reindeer — [rān′dir΄] n. pl. reindeer or occas.Rare reindeers [ME reindere < ON hreindȳri < hreinn, reindeer (< IE * k̑erei , horned animal < base * k̑er , top of the head, horn > HORN, L cerebrum) + dȳr, animal, DEER] any of a genus… …   English World dictionary

  • reindeer — ► NOUN (pl. same or reindeers) ▪ a deer with large branching antlers, native to the northern tundra and subarctic. ORIGIN Old Norse …   English terms dictionary

  • Reindeer — Caribou redirects here. For other uses, see caribou (disambiguation). For other uses of reindeer , see reindeer (disambiguation). Reindeer Conservation status …   Wikipedia

  • reindeer — /rayn dear /, n., pl. reindeer, (occasionally) reindeers. any of several large deer of the genus Rangifer, of northern and arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, both male and female of which have antlers. [1350 1400; ME raynder(e) <… …   Universalium

  • Reindeer —    Many Arctic cultures (including the Saami and the Chukchi) subsist by reindeer herding. Not surprisingly, reindeer play a role in their shamanic narratives, rituals, and cosmologies. Among the Siberian Chukchi, for example, shamans sometimes… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

  • reindeer — UK [ˈreɪnˌdɪə(r)] / US [ˈreɪnˌdɪr] noun [countable] Word forms reindeer : singular reindeer plural reindeer or reindeers an animal like a deer with large antlers growing from its head that lives in the Arctic and in northern regions of Europe and …   English dictionary

  • reindeer — rein|deer [ˈreındıə US dır] n plural reindeer [Date: 1300 1400; : Old Norse; Origin: hreinn reindeer + English deer] a large ↑deer with long wide ↑antlers (=horns) , that lives in cold northern areas …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • reindeer — [[t]re͟ɪndɪə(r)[/t]] N COUNT (Reindeer is both the singular and the plural form.) A reindeer is a deer with large horns called antlers that lives in northern areas of Europe, Asia, and America …   English dictionary

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