1580s (earlier buffel, 1510s, from French), from Portuguese bufalo "water buffalo," from Medieval Latin bufalus, variant of Latin bubalus "wild ox," from Greek boubalos "buffalo," originally the name of a kind of African antelope, later used of a type of domesticated ox in southern Asia and the Mediterranean lands, a word of uncertain origin. It appears to contain bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow"), but this is perhaps Greek folk-etymology.
It has been wrongly applied since 1630s to the American bison. The other Germanic words (Dutch buffel, German Büffel, Danish böffel, etc.) are from French; from Medieval Latin come Russian buivolu, Polish bujwoł, Bulgarian bivol, etc. Buffalo gnat is recorded from 1822. Buffalo chip "dung of the American bison," used for fuel on the U.S. plains, is from 1840.
city in western New York state, U.S., a name of disputed origin (there never were bison thereabouts), perhaps from the name of a native chief, or a corruption of French beau fleuve "beautiful river." Buffalo wings finger food so called because the recipe was invented in Buffalo (1964, at Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar on Main Street).
"alarm, overawe," 1900, from buffalo (n.). Probably from the animals' tendency to mass panic. Related: Buffaloed; buffaloing.
c. 1600, "European wild ox," from French bison (15c.), from Latin bison "wild ox," borrowed from Proto-Germanic *wisand- "aurochs" (source also of Old Norse visundr, Old High German wisunt "bison," Old English/Middle English wesend, which is not attested after c. 1400). Possibly ultimately of Baltic or Slavic origin, and meaning "the stinking animal," in reference to its scent while rutting (see weasel).
The animal formerly was widespread on the continent, including the British Isles, but in 20c. they survived in the wild only on a forest reserve in Poland. Not to be confused with the aurochs. The name also was applied 1690s to the North American species commonly mis-called a buffalo, which formerly ranged as far as Virginia and Georgia but by 1902 was deemed by Century Dictionary "apparently soon to become extinct as a wild animal." It has since recovered numbers on federal land. Related: Bisontine.
kind of thick, soft leather, 1570s, buffe leather "leather made of buffalo hide," from French buffle "buffalo" (15c., via Italian, from Latin bufalus; see buffalo (n.)).
The color term "light brownish-yellow" (by 1788) comes via the hue of buff leather. The old association of "hide" and "skin" led c. 1600 to the sense in in the buff "naked." Buff-colored uniforms of New York City volunteer firefighters since 1820s led to the meaning "enthusiast" (1903).
These men, together with a score or more of young boys who cherish ambitions to be firemen some day, make up the unofficial Fire Department of New York, and any one who imagines they are not a valuable branch of the service need only ask any firemen [sic] what he thinks of the Buffs to find out his mistake. The Buffs are men and boys whose love of fires, fire-fighting and firemen is a predominant characteristic, who simply cannot keep away from fires, no matter at what time of the day or night they occur, or how long they continue. [New York Sun, Feb. 4, 1903]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "ox, bull, cow," perhaps ultimately imitative of lowing; compare Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo "ox."
It forms all or part of: beef; Boeotian; Bosphorus; boustrophedon; bovine; bugle; Bucephalus; bucolic; buffalo; bugloss; bulimia; butane; butter; butyl; butyric; cow (n.); cowbell; cowboy; cowlick; cowslip; Euboea; Gurkha; hecatomb; kine.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit gaus, Greek bous, Latin bos, Old Irish bo, Latvian guovs, Armenian gaus, Old English cu, German Kuh, Old Norse kyr, Slovak hovado "cow, ox."
In Germanic and Celtic, of females only; in most other languages, of either gender. For "cow" Latin uses bos femina or vacca, a separate word of unknown origin. Other "cow" words sometimes are from roots meaning "horn, horned," such as Lithuanian karvė, Old Church Slavonic krava.
"brass musical instrument," mid-14c., abbreviation of buglehorn "musical horn, hunting horn" (c. 1300), from Old French bugle "(musical) horn," also "wild ox, buffalo," from Latin buculus "heifer, young ox," diminutive of bos "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow"). Middle English also had the word in the "buffalo" sense and it survived in dialect with meaning "young bull." Modern French bugle is a 19c. borrowing from English.
a blackface troupe originated c. 1843 by Edwin P. Christy in Buffalo, N.Y.; one of the first (along with Dan Emmett) to expand blackface from a solo act to a full minstrel show and bring it into the mainstream of American entertainment.
1690s, "to furnish with horns," from horn (n.). Earlier in figurative sense of "to cuckold" (1540s). Meaning "to push with the horns" (of cattle, buffalo, etc.) is from 1851, American English; phrase horn in "intrude" is by 1880, American English, originally cowboy slang. Related: Horned; horning.