Definition of wapiti in English:


nounPlural wapitis

  • A red deer of a large race native to North America.

    Cervus elaphus canadensis, family Cervidae; it is sometimes treated as a separate species (C. canadensis)

    Also called elk in North America
    • ‘In summer, the wapiti's coat is sleek and tawny brown, with a large buff-coloured rump patch.’
    • ‘The bull wapiti is the world's second largest deer.’
    • ‘The remaining loci were derived in other ruminants: red deer, caribou, gazelle, and wapiti (Cervus elaphus canadensis).’
    • ‘The American elk is one of the large deer which may also be called wapiti; the name is used of C. elephus or its subspecies in Asia.’
    • ‘The National Wildlife Society judged his comprehensive wapiti study, The Elk of North America, the ‘outstanding publication on terrestrial wildlife’ in 1951.’
    • ‘As hunters argue the right to shoot wapiti, or white baiters to maintain 100-year-old fishing rituals, it's often about traditional values or perceived ‘rights’ going head to head with the realities of commercial pressure.’
    • ‘Although wapiti was reintroduced into southern Yukon in the 1950s, it has not appreciably extended its range or expanded its present numbers of about 200.’
    • ‘A wapiti lies upside down to the lower right.’
    • ‘We have a wapiti [elk], which was shot in Canada by one of the pilots in 1917 and subsequently mounted in the Mess.’
    • ‘The KFI is a measure of fat reserves and has been shown to be a significant predictor of fetal sex ratios in wapiti.’
    • ‘The wapiti was much bigger than the eastern whitetail: moose were larger yet: with the ‘buffalo’ being the heaviest four-footed animal on the continent.’


Early 19th century: from Shawnee, literally ‘white rump’.