from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various large herbivorous marsupials of the family Macropodidae of Australia and adjacent islands, having short forelimbs, large hind limbs used for leaping, and a long tapered tail.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An early form of ‘safety’ bicycle which had a large wheel in front and a small one in the rear, the forks being connected by a curved backbone, as in the ordinary ‘high’ bicycle, but with the saddle back of the large wheel.
  • noun plural In stock-exchange slang, West Australian mining shares.
  • To leap as a kangaroo, either literally or figuratively.
  • To hunt the kangaroo.
  • To whip with a kangaroo-skin whip-lash.
  • noun A large marsupial mammal of Australia, Macropus giganteus; by extension, any herbivorous and saltatorial marsupial of the family Macropodidæ (which see for technical characters).
  • noun A kind of chair.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of jumping marsupials of the family Macropodidæ. They inhabit Australia, New Guinea, and adjacent islands, They have long and strong hind legs and a large tail, while the fore legs are comparatively short and feeble. The giant kangaroo (Macropus major) is the largest species, sometimes becoming twelve or fourteen feet in total length. The tree kangaroos, belonging to the genus Dendrolagus, live in trees; the rock kangaroos, of the genus Petrogale, inhabit rocky situations; and the brush kangaroos, of the genus Halmaturus, inhabit wooded districts. See wallaby.
  • noun (Bot.) the edible fruit of the Tasmanian plant Solanum aviculare.
  • noun (Bot.) a perennial Australian forage grass (Anthistiria australis).
  • noun (Zoöl.) the jerboa kangaroo. See under Jerboa.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Jumping mouse, under Jumping.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A member of a family of large marsupials with strong hind legs for hopping, mainly found in Australia, scientific name macropod.
  • noun Canada, attributive A hooded jacket with a front pocket, usually of fleece material, a kangaroo jacket.
  • verb To practice kangaroo care on an infant; to hold a premature infant against the skin.
  • verb To hunt kangaroo.

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

  • noun any of several herbivorous leaping marsupials of Australia and New Guinea having large powerful hind legs and a long thick tail


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

[Guugu Yimidhirr (Pama-Nyungan language of northeast Australia) gaŋurru.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Guugu Yimidhirr gangurru, recorded by James Cook and others in 1770 at Endeavour River; in English, applied to the whole family of macropods, apparently from not realizing the Guugu Yimidhirr word referred to just one species.


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  • A marsupial mammal remarkable for the great development of the hind-quarters and leaping power. Natives of Australia, Tasmania, Papua, and some neighbouring isles; the larger kinds being commonly known as kangaroos, and the smaller ones as wallabies. The first species known in Europe was the great kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), discovered by Captain Cook in 1770; the male of this is about 6 feet in height when standing erect. (OED online)

    He is also a helluva boxer. You do *not* want to get in a fight with a six-foot kangaroo.


    Tie me kangaroo down, sport,

    Tie me kangaroo down.

    --Rolf Harris

    February 7, 2007

  • Demonstrated nicely in this video.

    February 19, 2008

  • The name comes from the North Queensland language Guugu Yimidhirr, in which it refers to a particular species of kangaroo. Guugu Yimidhirr was the first Australian language to be recorded at all: Captain Cook took notes in 1770. He wrote: 'The animals which I have before mentioned, called by the Natives Kangooroo or Kanguru'; and Banks wrote: 'The largest quadruped was called by the natives kangooroo'.

    It is not of course pronounced exactly like the modern English word; in particular the medial -ng- had no /g/ sound, being as in 'singer', not as in 'finger, kangaroo'. This is part of the evidence that the borrowing was from Guugu Yimidhirr into English, not vice versa. Borrowing does seem to have happened into other languages, because writers in the next few years make a bewilderingly contradictory set of statements. Some of them say the word was unknown to the natives (this is believable: as Portuguese words would be unknown in Norway or Poland), while others say the very same word was used by the natives in impossible places like Tasmania. (There is no known relationship between Tasmanian and mainland languages, for one thing.)

    It is dubious whether this has any connexion with the popular belief that 'kangaroo' meant "I don't know" and was given in answer to a question about the animal. Why that word? In early years explorers didn't realize how many different languages there were in Australia, but they would have been instantly stumped by virtually any North Queensland word they tried to use in the Sydney area. It's not just kangaroos that would have had entirely different names.

    July 31, 2008

  • The influence of this feisty marsupial on world events should not be underestimated. From its invaluable contributions to the early development of that parched, philistine continent it calls home*, to its important role in recent Chinese history**, and the molding of the minds of future leaders of America***, it is clear that we placental mammals could learn much from this scruffy member of the marsupial nobility.

    *: "Frontier justice in a nation of convicts : marsupial jurisprudence in van Diemen's Land", deSelby, 1908 (Tasmanian Devil Press)

    **: "Rebel 'roos: the true story of the Boxer Rebellion", deSelby, 1948. (Peeking Duck Press)

    ***: "Captain Kangaroo and the Manchurian Candidate : the true history of the 'placental pogroms' of 2009", work in progress.

    July 31, 2008

  • Ah, de Selby, the savant's savant!

    July 31, 2008

  • On the Quiz 7 list because the two musical pieces were, respectively, the "Swan" and "Kangaroo" from Saint Saens' "Carnival of the Animals"

    December 27, 2008

  • "In most (Australian) languages b can be substituted for p, d for t and g for k with no difference to the meaning of the word. Some people use b, d and g while others prefer p, t and k; either set of letters is satisfactory. Thus, the name of the language spoken west of Alice Springs is sometimes spelt Pintupi and sometimes Bintubi; and the name of the large black kangaroo in Guugu-Yimidhirr can be written either kang-urru or gang-urr."

    - R.M.W. Dixon, 'Australian Languages', 1989.

    March 23, 2009

  • What's that you said, pilpy?

    March 23, 2009

  • Female kangaroos are trivaginate and possess two uteri.

    April 17, 2012