Definitions

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

  • noun A wild ass (Equus hemionus) of Asia, having an erect mane, a light brown coat, and a dark stripe along the back.
  • noun An ancient and medieval catapult, often employing a wooden arm with a short sling.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A wild ass, Equus hemippus or E. onager, inhabiting the steppes of central Asia. See dziggetai.
  • noun A war-engine for throwing stones, used in Europe in the middle ages.

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

  • noun (Rom. Antiq.) A military engine acting like a sling, which threw stones from a bag or wooden bucket, and was operated by machinery.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A wild ass of central Asia, especially the koulan (Equus hemionus syn. Equus hemippus syn. Equus onager, formely Asinus onager).

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

  • noun A wild ass, Equus hemionus, especially the koulan.
  • noun A military engine acting like a sling, which threw stones from a bag or wooden bucket, and was operated by machinery.

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

  • noun an engine that provided medieval artillery used during sieges; a heavy war engine for hurling large stones and other missiles
  • noun Asiatic wild ass

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, wild ass, from Greek onagros : onos, ass + agrios, wild; see agro- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman onager, Old French onager ("wild ass; siege engine"), from Latin onager ("wild ass"), from Hellenistic Ancient Greek ὄναγρος ("wild ass"), from ὄνος ("ass") + ἄγριος ("wild").

Examples

  • The wild ass is called onager because "ass" in Greek is onus and "wild" is agrion.

    WMAM After a Busy Weekend

  • The wild ass is called onager because "ass" in Greek is onus and "wild" is agrion.

    Archive 2008-05-01

  • The onager is a wild ass that brays 12 times to signal the spring equinox.

    WMAM After a Busy Weekend

  • The onager is a wild ass that brays 12 times to signal the spring equinox.

    Archive 2008-05-01

  • Within this ecoregion, the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve protects vegetation, Gazelle spp., and the re-introduced onager (Equus hemionus).

    Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands

  • Today, only a few hundred individuals of the Persian wild ass subpsecies (E.h. onager) persist in Bahram-e-Goor in the Iranian portion of the hotspot, while another subspecies of wild ass, known as the kulan or Turkmenian wild ass (E.h. kulan, CR), survives only in a single population in and around the Badkhyz Nature Reserve in south Turkmenistan, just marginally outside the hotspot.

    Biological diversity in the Irano-Anatolian

  • The Kulan, or onager (Equus hemionus onager), is an endangered subspecies of Asian wild ass which has been recently introduced in this ecoregion (Kapchagai preserve) from Turkmenistan, where the only remaining wild population lives in the Badghyz Reserve.

    Tian Shan foothill arid steppe

  • Kulan, or onager (Equus hemionus onager) is the subspecies of Asian wild ass currently found only in this ecoregion.

    Badkhiz-Karabil semi-desert

  • The critically endangered Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus ssp. venaticus), the endangered onager (Equus hemionus ssp. onager), and the Persian ibex (Capra aegagrus – classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List) were once more common in this region but now are found only in small numbers.

    Central Persian desert basins

  • Characteristic fauna includes onager, gazelles, cheetah, leopard, the desert fox, and many species of birds.

    Central Persian desert basins

Comments

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  • A wild or feral donkey, originally; it was adopted as a Roman name for a catapult. Apparently it kicks about as hard.

    August 15, 2008

  • Ohhhhh, my gosh. Coolest word *ever*.

    August 16, 2008

  • Cited by Ogden Nash:

    Have ever you harked to the jackass wild,

    Which scientists call the onager?

    It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child,

    Or a hepcat on a harmoniger.

    But do not sneer at the jackass wild,

    There is a method in his heehaw.

    For with maidenly blush and accent mild

    The jenny-ass answers shee-haw.

    August 16, 2008

  • Milo, this is good stuff !

    August 16, 2008

  • American Heritage Dictionary defines this as a "fast-running wild ass."

    I think I know some of these guys.

    January 20, 2011

  • "Video games have turned everyone under the age of 20 into experts on military history and tactics; 12-year-olds on school buses argue about the right way to deploy onagers and cataphracts while outflanking a Roman triplex acies formation."

    "It's All Geek to Me" by Neal Stephenson, pp 60-61 of Some Remarks

    September 2, 2013