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

  • noun Any of various hoofed mammals of the order Perissodactyla, having an odd number of toes, either one or three, on each foot. Perissodactyls include the horses, tapirs, and rhinoceroses.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Odd-toed, as a hoofed quadruped; of or pertaining to, or characteristic of, the Perissodactyla. Also perissodactylate, perissodactylic, perissodactylous.
  • noun A member of the Perissodactyla; a perissad.

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

  • noun (Zoöl.) One of the Perissodactyla.

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

  • noun Any ungulate mammal with an odd number of toes and belonging to the Perissodactyla, including the horses, zebra, and rhinoceros.

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

  • noun placental mammals having hooves with an odd number of toes on each foot


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

[New Latin perissodactylus, from Greek perissodaktulos : perissos, excessive, odd (from peri, beyond); see per in Indo-European roots + daktulos, finger.]



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  • About 10 million years after the meteor struck, the first hoofed mammals, or ungulates, appeared. One order of ungulates, called Perissodactyla, includes just a handful of living species, such as horses,hinoceroses, and tapirs. The other order, Artiodactyla, is much larer and includes pigs, cows, goats, sheep, camels, llamas, giraffes, deer, antelopes, camels, hippopotamuses, bison, and water buffalos. Both orders of ungulates might be called tiptoers. Their hooves are actually outsized toenails, and they walk like ballerinas en pointe. . . ."Perissodactyl" means "odd-toed": the foot's axis cuts through the center of the middle digit, and the animals walk either on three toes, like rhinos and tapirs, or just one, like horses, zebras, and donkeys. "Artiodactyl" means "even-toed": the first digit (the thumb or big toe) is absent, and the feet are symmetrical, with the axis running between the third and fourth digits . . . . they appear to have a single hoof split down the center, what the King James Bible describes as the "cloven foot."
    Mark Essig, Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig (New York: Basic Books, 2015), ch. 1.

    May 15, 2016