AskDefine | Define bison

Dictionary Definition

bison n : any of several large shaggy-maned humped bovids having large heads and short horns

User Contributed Dictionary

see Bison



From bison "wild ox," borrowed from Proto-Germanic *wisand- "aurochs".



  1. A wild ox, Bison bonasus.
  2. A similar American animal, Bison bison else Bos americanus or Bisonte americano; also called a buffalo.



A wild ox, Bison bonasus
A similar American animal, Bison bison



  • /bi.zɔ̃/|lang=fr


  1. buffalo (North American bison)

Extensive Definition

This is an article about an animal. For other uses, see Bison (disambiguation).
Bison is a taxonomic group containing six species of large even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Only two of these species still exist: the American bison (B. bison) and the European bison, or wisent (B. bonasus), each with two subspecies.


In American Western culture, the bison is commonly referred to as "buffalo"; however, this is a misnomer: though both bison and buffalo belong to the Bovidae family, the term "buffalo" properly applies only to the Asian water buffalo and African buffalo. The gaur, a large, thick-coated ox found in Asia, is also known as the "Indian bison", although it is in the genus Bos and thus not a true bison.


The American and European bison are the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Europe. Bison are nomadic grazers and travel in herds, except for the non-dominant bulls, which travel alone or in small groups during most of the year. American bison are known for living in the Great Plains. Both species were hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries but have since rebounded, although the European bison is still endangered.
Unlike the Asian water buffalo, bison have never been domesticated, although the American bison is kept on some farms.
Bison live to be about 20 years old and are born without their trademark "hump" or horns. With the development of their horns, they become mature at two to three years of age, although the males continue to grow slowly to about age seven.
Adult bulls express a high degree of dominance competitiveness during mating season. Male bison fight for female bison. These fights often result in injury or death. After the bisons mate, the herd splits up into smaller herds. Calves are born nine months after mating. The mothers take care of and nurse their young for a year.
Bison are up to 11.5 feet (3.5m) in length, up to 6.5 feet (2m) in height and up to one ton in weight.


Bison have a fairly simple diet. The bison's main food is grass. Bison also eat the low lying shrubbery that is available. In the winter, bison forage in the snow looking for grass. If there is little grass available, bison have to resort to eating the twigs of the shrubs and plants.



bison in Bulgarian: Бизони
bison in Catalan: Bisó
bison in Czech: Bizon
bison in German: Bisons
bison in Spanish: Bison
bison in Esperanto: Bizono
bison in French: Bison
bison in Galician: Bisonte
bison in Ido: Bizono
bison in Indonesian: Bison
bison in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Bison
bison in Italian: Bison
bison in Hungarian: Bölény
bison in Dutch: Bison (geslacht)
bison in Norwegian: Bison
bison in Occitan (post 1500): Bisont
bison in Polish: Bison (zwierzęta)
bison in Portuguese: Bisonte
bison in Romanian: Bizon
bison in Quechua: Bisunti
bison in Russian: Бизоны
bison in Simple English: Bison
bison in Slovak: Zubor (rod)
bison in Swedish: Bison (släkte)
bison in Vietnamese: Bò rừng bizon
bison in Turkish: Bizon
bison in Chinese: 美洲野牛属

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Brahman, Indian buffalo, aurochs, beef, beef cattle, beeves, bossy, bovine, bovine animal, buffalo, bull, bullock, calf, carabao, cattle, cow, critter, dairy cattle, dairy cow, dogie, heifer, hornless cow, kine, leppy, maverick, milch cow, milcher, milk cow, milker, muley cow, muley head, musk-ox, neat, ox, oxen, steer, stirk, stot, wisent, yak, yearling, zebu
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