"horse race-course," 1580s, from French hippodrome, from Latin hippodromos "race course," from Greek hippodromos "chariot road, race course for chariots," from hippos "horse" (from PIE root *ekwo- "horse") + dromos "course" (see dromedary). In modern use, "circus performance place" (mid-19c.), and thus extended to "large theater for stage shows." In old U.S. sporting slang, "a fixed match or race."
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