from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A medieval collection of stories providing physical and allegorical descriptions of real or imaginary animals along with an interpretation of the moral significance each animal was thought to embody. A number of common misconceptions relating to natural history were preserved in these popular accounts.
  • n. A modern version of such a collection.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A medieval treatise of various real or imaginary animals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A treatise on beasts; esp., one of the moralizing or allegorical beast tales written in the Middle Ages.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A fighter with wild beasts in the ancient Roman amphitheater.
  • n. A name formerly sometimes given to a book treating of animals.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a medieval book (usually illustrated) with allegorical and amusing descriptions of real and fabled animals


Medieval Latin bēstiārium, from Latin bēstia, beast.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French bestiaire, from Latin bēstia ("beast, animal") (whence English beast). (Wiktionary)


Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.