Definition of capybara in US English:



  • A South American mammal that resembles a giant long-legged guinea pig. It lives in groups near water and is the largest living rodent.

    Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, the only member of the family Hydrochaeridae

    • ‘The rainforest started to return - as did its creatures - deer, anteaters, capybaras and eagles.’
    • ‘Obviously comfortable with the relationship, capybaras (the largest living rodents) are unfazed when cowbirds alight on their heads and begin to peck around their eyes and ears.’
    • ‘The skull of a capybara is very much like that of a guinea pig, except that it is very much larger and more robust.’
    • ‘These include the capybara, the agouti, the coypu, the cavy and the chinchilla.’
    • ‘Alligator-like caimans doze while capybaras, the world's largest rodent species, munch on grasses along the riverbank.’
    • ‘Beyond the horse paddock, a troop of capybaras, pig-size aquatic rodents, emerged from the tree line and settled serenely into a wallow.’
    • ‘Just stop being such a baby about it and come spend your vacation in the Venezuela sun frolicking with capybaras.’
    • ‘The fact that it does not taste like chicken - as allegedly does every exotic animal from snake to capybara - must come as an immense relief to the locals.’
    • ‘On this 140-mile journey, you'll visit fishing villages atop South American criollo horses, fuel up on lamb and steak, and gaze at capybaras (the world's largest rodents).’
    • ‘It will hunt, for example, that capybara, if it's a young capybara.’
    • ‘Living members of the group today include beavers, squirrels, guinea pigs, rats, mice, capybaras, and hundreds of other species.’
    • ‘Watch as a female anaconda in Venezuela hunts down a capybara - the world's largest rodent - and swallows her meal whole.’
    • ‘You notice that, although it's a fine article, it fails to mention the world's largest living rodent, the capybara.’
    • ‘Three capybaras - who bear a striking resemblance to domestic guinea pigs, have been born at the popular animal park and the babies are now delighting visitors as they lap up the autumn sunshine.’
    • ‘The US National Research Council draws attention to one special feature about the capybara as food.’
    • ‘On the basis of fossil plants surrounding the remains, as well as the shape of the animal's teeth, the team suggests that Phoberomys fed on rough grasses in or near water, as capybaras still do.’
    • ‘Besides, overall group alertness has been shown to increase with group size in capybaras and degus, which may result in increased probabilities of detecting an approaching predator.’
    • ‘The monkeys swung in haste through the wide branches of the red cedars, the capybara and tapir rushed for safety to the palm and mango groves.’
    • ‘The more important of these are the capybara - the world's largest rodent - peccaries, turtles, and alligators.’
    • ‘Rodents range in size from pygmy mice weighing 5 g to capybaras, the largest of which weigh over 70 kg.’


Early 17th century: from Spanish capibara or Portuguese capivara, from Tupi capiuára, from capĩ ‘grass’ + uára ‘eater’.