Definition of reindeer in US English:



  • A deer of the tundra and subarctic regions of Eurasia and North America, both sexes of which have large branching antlers. Most Eurasian reindeer are domesticated and used for drawing sleds and as a source of milk, flesh, and hide.

    Genus Rangifer, family Cervidae: several species, in particular R. tarandus

    • ‘Because you are travelling so quietly, there's some great opportunities to spot elks/moose, reindeers or other Swedish wild animals.’
    • ‘As a Saami herder fed one plump animal, the Governor General wanted to know what reindeers usually eat.’
    • ‘He tells all the special children that he will visit them on Christmas Eve and gives them special pieces of hay for his reindeers.’
    • ‘Saami women had their own brands to mark their own reindeer, the power to decide how their reindeer were to be cared for, as well as the right to divide their own estate at death.’
    • ‘Ask a child what Christmas means, and apart from the stories of magical reindeers, Santa, and the promise of presents, they will probably mention sweets, chocolate and other foods.’
    • ‘I always remember the one year I woke my mum up at some ungodly hour and was convinced I heard reindeers on the roof.’
    • ‘Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring.’
    • ‘Families all over the city and county have pulled out all the stops this Christmas transforming their homes into a winter wonderland, with giant Santa's and Snowmen, reindeers and miles of sparkling lights in an array of colours.’
    • ‘But the pair forgot all their troubles when they met Father Christmas, had a sleigh ride pulled by husky dogs and another one pulled by Father Christmas's reindeers.’
    • ‘The Village Grotto is home to Rudolf, the reindeers and Santa's elves.’
    • ‘Nowadays people fill their homes at Christmas with all kinds of decorations: tinsel, colour, lights, reindeers and a superfluity of Santa Clauses.’
    • ‘Usually, my family went home after church to hang stockings and leave out carrots for the reindeer.’
    • ‘Santa asked him to leave out a carrot and some lettuce for the reindeers to give them energy to fly around the world.’
    • ‘There will also be reindeers and sledge dogs, penguins and seals to give a ‘feel’ of Antartica.’


Late Middle English: from Old Norse hreindýri, from hreinn ‘reindeer’ + dýr ‘deer’.