Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A supposed mythical monster, half ox, half man.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fabulous monster, half ox, half man.
  • n. The state barge of Venice, used by the doge in the ceremony of espousing the Adriatic.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A mythical monster, half man and half bull; a centaur with the body of a bull in place of that of a horse.
  • n. [capitalized] The state barge of Venice, in which the doge and senate annually on Ascension day performed the ceremonial marriage of the state with the Adriatic, symbolic of the commercial power of the republic.

Etymologies

Supposedly from Ancient Greek, but perhaps invented later. See remarks at Wikipedia. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • a week; while as for the "bucentaur" or public bark, which was just then getting under way, it was already packed to the gunwale with Jews, pedlars and such vermin, and the captain swore by the three thousand relics of Saint Justina that he had no room on board for so much as a hungry flea.

    The Valley of Decision

  • This derivation is, however, fanciful; the name _bucentaurus_ is unknown in ancient mythology, and the figurehead of the bucentaurs, of which representations have come down to us, is the lion of St Mark. [v. 04 p. 0658] The name bucentaur seems, indeed, to have been given to any great and sumptuous Venetian galley.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 3 "Brescia" to "Bulgaria"

  • My most illustrious mother, Don Alfonso and Madonna Anna, with a very few servants, entered the small bucentaur, and the other ladies and gentlemen travelled on the larger bucentaur, or in small gondolas, while I entered another gondola with Signor Girolamo,

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • On the 12th, the bride set out for Mantua, travelling by water up the river Po in a stately bucentaur presented to Isabella by Duke Ercole, adorned with rich carving and gilding.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • At Malamocco, the fort on the southern point of Lido guarding the entrance of the harbour, they were received by a deputation of patricians, while at S. Clemente the old Doge, Agostino Barbarigo, himself came out to meet them in the bucentaur, followed by an immense company of boats and gondolas in festive array.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • Then we breakfasted, and at ten we entered the bucentaur, dividing our company between the middle-sized and small bucentaur and a few gondolas, which were prepared for us, as being safer, since the weather was still rather stormy.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • Grande, where the Prince, who talked to us all the way with the utmost familiarity and kindness, took great pleasure in showing us the chief palaces of this noble city, and pointing out the ladies, who appeared glittering with jewels at all the balconies and windows, besides the great company -- about a hundred and thirty in number -- who were already with us in the bucentaur.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • Prince -- and so he conducted us on board the bucentaur.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • In one of these Beatrice had apparently given a lively account of her triumphs at cards in the games which she had played with her companions on board the bucentaur.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

  • Messer Visconti, and a few others, so as to lighten the small bucentaur and travel more comfortably, as we were assured.

    Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan, 1475-1497

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