Definition of serval in English:



  • A slender African wild cat with long legs, large ears, and a black-spotted orange-brown coat.

    • ‘They were quickly followed by three Asian species (bay cat, marbled cat, and Asian golden cat) and three African species (caracal, serval, and African golden cat).’
    • ‘There are three types of African Sachal, spotted hyena and a myriad of small predators such as the aard-wolf and the beautiful serval cat.’
    • ‘For those who have never seen a serval, you can describe it as looking like a small cheetah.’
    • ‘Over the years, we had filmed cheetahs, lions, leopards, African wildcats and servals (for the first ever film of them) but never caracals.’
    • ‘A large spotted cat, possibly a serval, was seen close to railway lines at Ladycross near Brockenhurst.’
    • ‘In East Africa small cats include wild cats, sand and serval cats.’
    • ‘On a night drive near Mwambashi Camp, in the Lower Zambesi National Park, on our final evening we also spotlight a leopard, several smaller cats (servals and civets), zebra and a white-tailed mongoose.’
    • ‘I seen a serval only once near Satara on the main road to Orpen, on a night drive.’
    • ‘Among prey of servals studied in South Africa's Kamberg Nature Reserve, 80 percent was made up of rodents weighing little more than one ounce.’


Late 18th century: from French, from Portuguese cerval deer-like, from cervo deer, from Latin cervus.