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A dromedary (Camelus dromedarius)

From Middle English dromedari, dromedarie (dromedary; any camel) [and other forms],[1] from Old French dromedaire, from Late Latin dromedārius (kind of camel), from Latin *dromadārius, from dromas, dromadis (dromedary) + -ārius (suffix forming nouns denoting agents of use). Dromas and dromadis are derived from Ancient Greek δρομᾰ́ς (dromás, running; dromedary), an ellipsis of δρομὰς κάμηλος (dromàs kámēlos, running camel),[2] from δρόμος (drómos, race, running; race course, track), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *drem- (to run).



dromedary (plural dromedaries)

  1. The single-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius).
    Synonyms: Arabian camel, dromedarian, dromedary camel, Somali camel
    • [c. 1400, Edmund Brock, editor, Morte Arthure, or The Death of Arthur: Edited from Robert Thornton’s MS. [], new edition (in Middle English), London: Published for the Early English Text Society, by N[icholas] Trübner & Co., [], published 1871, page 87, lines 2940–2941:
      The duke in his schelde and dreches no lengere, / Drawes hym a dromedarie, with dredfulle knyghtez; [...]
      (please add an English translation of this quotation)]
    • 1630, John Taylor, “Taylors Pastorall, being Both Historicall and Satyricall. []”, in All the Workes of Iohn Taylor the Water-poet. [], London: [] Iames Boler;  [], →OCLC, page 52; republished in The Works of John Taylor the Water Poet [] (Publications of the Spenser Society; no. 2), [Manchester]: [] Spenser Society, 1868, →OCLC, page 536, column 2:
      The Dromedarie, Camell, Horſe, and Aſſe, / For loade and carriage doth a Sheepe ſurpaſſe: [...]
    • 1650, Edward Leigh, “Δρόμος [Drómos]”, in Critica Sacra in Two Parts: The First Containing Observations on All the Radices, or Primitive Hebrevv Words of the Old Testament, in Order Alphabetical. [] The Second Philologicall and Theologicall Observations upon All the Greek Words of the New Testament, in Order Alphabetical. [], 3rd edition, London: [] Thomas Underhill [], →OCLC, page 74, column 2:
      [T]he Dromedarie [...] who is marvellous ſwift, and will run an hundred miles in a day; but the Germanes call a dull and ſlow man a Dromedary, [...]
    • 1651 February 3 (Gregorian calendar), John Evelyn, “[Diary entry for 24 January 1651]”, in William Bray, editor, Memoirs, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, [], 2nd edition, volume I, London: Henry Colburn, []; and sold by John and Arthur Arch, [], published 1819, →OCLC, page 249:
      I went to see a Dromedarie, a very monstrous beaste, much like the Camel but larger.
    • 1694, [Thomas] d’Urfey, The Comical History of Don Quixote. [], part I, London: [] Samuel Briscoe, [], →OCLC, Act I, scene ii, page 6:
      Oh, thou Dromedary, thou Founder'd Mule, without a Pack-ſaddle; or what other foul Beaſt ſhall I call thee, for Man thou art not, nor haſt not been to me, Heaven knows the time when? Art not thou aſham'd to ſee me, thou Nincompoop?
    • 1765, [Simon Berington], The Adventures of Sig. Gaudentio di Lucca. [], Glasgow: [] James Knox, [], →OCLC, page 66:
      Here we alighted, drank ourſelves, and gave our dromedaries to drink as much as they would; then we filled all our veſſels, made on purpoſe for carriage, and took in a much greater proportion of water than we had done proviſions.
    • 1791, Oliver Goldsmith, “The Camel, and the Dromedary”, in An History of the Earth, and Animated Nature. [], new edition, volume IV, London: [] F[rancis] Wingrave, successor to Mr. [John] Nourse, [], →OCLC, page 280:
      [T]he camel has two bunches upon his back, whereas the dromedary has but one; the latter alſo, is neither ſo large, nor ſo ſtrong, as the camel. Theſe two races, however, produce with each other, and the mixed breed formed between them is conſidered the beſt, the moſt patient, and the moſt indefatigable of all the kind.
  2. Any swift riding camel.
    • 1560, [William Whittingham et al., transl.], The Bible and Holy Scriptures Conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament. [] (the Geneva Bible), Geneva: [] Rouland Hall, →OCLC, Ieremiáh II:23, folio 306, verso:
      [T]hou art like a ſwift dromedarie, that runneth by his wayes.
      Thou art like a swift dromedary, that runs in his ways.
  3. (medicine, dated, attributively) Referring to a biphasic clinical course of poliomyelitis, typically occurring in children, characterized by a minor illness, followed by an asymptomatic period of several days before the onset of a major illness involving the central nervous system.
    • 1917 April 21, George Draper, “Acute Poliomyelitis: Early Diagnosis and Serum Therapy”, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 68, number 16, Chicago, Ill., →DOI, page 1153:
      The untreated cases have been arranged in three groups according to the clinical course. The first group, called the dromedary group, shows the curious phenomenon of two different periods of illness with an interval of well-being. [] Because of the two distinct groups or humps of symptoms, the analogy to the arrangement of the dromedary’s back was taken to express the type figuratively.

Usage notes[edit]

The dromedary was formerly known by a number of different binomial names:

  • Camelus aegyptiacus Friedrich August Rudolph Kolenati, 1847
  • Camelus africanus Gloger, 1841
  • Camelus arabicus Charles Desmoulins, 1823
  • Camelus dromas Peter Simon Pallas, 1811
  • Camelus dromos Kerr, 1792
  • Camelus ferus Falk,1786
  • Camelus lukius Kolenati, 1847
  • Camelus polytrichus Kolenati, 1847
  • Camelus turcomanichus Johann Fischer von Waldheim, 1829
  • Camelus vulgaris Kolenati, 1847

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See also[edit]


  1. ^ dromedārī(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ dromedary, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1897; “dromedary, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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