Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various hoofed ruminant mammals of the family Cervidae, characteristically having deciduous antlers borne chiefly by the males. The deer family also includes the elk, moose, caribou, and reindeer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A beast, usually a quadruped as opposed to birds, fish, etc.
  • n. (Esp. in phrase small deer) Any animal, especially a mammal.
  • n. a ruminant mammal with antlers and hooves of the family Cervidae or one of several similar animals from related families of the order Artiodactyla
  • n. The meat of such an animal

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any animal; especially, a wild animal.
  • n. A ruminant of the genus Cervus, of many species, and of related genera of the family Cervidæ. The males, and in some species the females, have solid antlers, often much branched, which are shed annually. Their flesh, for which they are hunted, is called venison.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any wild quadruped.
  • n. The general name of the solid-horned ruminants of the family Ccrvidœ, and especially of the genus Cervus. See these words.
  • n. A term loosely applied to the chevrotains, of the family Tragulidæ (which see), from their resemblance to musk-deer.

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

  • n. distinguished from Bovidae by the male's having solid deciduous antlers

Etymologies

Middle English der, beast, from Old English dēor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English deere, dere, der, dier, deor ("small animal, deer"), from Old English dēor, dīor ("an animal, beast, any sort of wild animal, wild beast; deer, reindeer"), from Proto-Germanic *deuzan (“animal”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeusóm (“living thing”), from *dʰeus (“breath”), full-grade derivative of *dʰu̯ésmi. Cognate with Scots dere, deir ("deer"), North Frisian dier ("animal, beast"), West Frisian dier ("animal, beast"), Dutch dier ("animal, beast"), Low German Deer, Deert ("animal"), German Tier ("animal, beast"), Swedish djur ("animal, beast"), Icelandic dýr ("animal, beast"). Related also to Albanian dash ("ram"), Lithuanian daũsos ("upper air; heaven"), Lithuanian dùsti ("to sigh"), Russian душа (dušá, "breath, spirit"), Lithuanian dvėsti ("to breath, exhale"), Russian  (dvochat', "to cough"), Sanskrit  (dhvaṁsati, "he falls to dust"). For semantic development compare Latin animalis ("animal"), from anima ("breath, spirit"). (Wiktionary)

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