African wild cat, a name applied in zoology to various wild cats since 1771, from Modern Latin serval, French serval (Buffon, 1765), from Portuguese (lobo) cerval "lynx," from Latin lupus cervarius (source of French loup cervier) "lynx," etymologically "wolf that hunts the stag," from cervarius "pertaining to a stag," from cervus "stag," from PIE *ker-wo- "having horns," suffixed form of root *ker- (1) "horn; head." The actual animals eat small things like rodents and birds. Related: Servaline (adj.)
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "horn; head," with derivatives referring to horned animals, horn-shaped objects, and projecting parts.
It forms all or part of: alpenhorn; Capricorn; carat; carotid; carrot; carotene; cerato-; cerebellum; cerebral; cerebrum; cervical; cervix; charivari; cheer; chelicerae; corn (n.2) "hardening of the skin;" cornea; corner; cornet; cornucopia; cranium; flugelhorn; hart; hartebeest; horn; hornbeam; hornblende; hornet; keratin; kerato-; migraine; monoceros; reindeer; rhinoceros; saveloy; serval; triceratops; unicorn.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit srngam "horn;" Persian sar "head," Avestan sarah- "head;" Greek karnon "horn," koryne "club, mace," koryphe "head;" Latin cornu "horn," cervus "deer;" Old English horn "horn of an animal;" Welsh carw "deer."