pachyderm

A pachyderm is a really big animal with really thick skin, like an elephant or a hippo.

If you break this word down to its parts, you see pachy which means thick and derm which means skin. It comes from the Greek, but was first used to describe a class of animals by a French naturalist in 1797. He believed that thick skinned animals all belonged to the same family and categorized them together. We now know to classify them according to different features, but the word remains both in use and descriptively useful.

Definitions of pachyderm
  1. noun
    any of various nonruminant hoofed mammals having very thick skin: elephant; rhinoceros; hippopotamus
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    types:
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    elephant
    five-toed pachyderm
    rogue elephant
    a wild and vicious elephant separated from the herd
    Elephas maximus, Indian elephant
    Asian elephant having smaller ears and tusks primarily in the male
    African elephant, Loxodonta africana
    an elephant native to Africa having enormous flapping ears and ivory tusks
    mammoth
    any of numerous extinct elephants widely distributed in the Pleistocene; extremely large with hairy coats and long upcurved tusks
    gomphothere
    extinct elephants of Central American and South America; of the Miocene and Pleistocene
    type of:
    eutherian, eutherian mammal, placental, placental mammal
    mammals having a placenta; all mammals except monotremes and marsupials
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