Bi"son(b"sn; 277), n. [L. bison, Gr. bi`swn, a wild ox; akin to OHG. wisunt, wisant, G. wisent, AS. wesend, Icel. vsundr: cf. F. bison.] (Zol.) (a) The aurochs or European bison. (b) The American bison buffalo (Bison Americanus), a large, gregarious bovine quadruped with shaggy mane and short black horns, which formerly roamed in herds over most of the temperate portion of North America, but by 1900 was restricted to very limited districts in the region of the Rocky Mountains, and was almost hunted to extinction. Efforts at conservation of the American bison resulted in setting aside several reserves, and by 1990 a few stable herds were established, numbering from hundreds to thousands, roaming certain public areas, such as Yellowstone Park, some reserves in Canada, and some private reserves. Some bison are kept as range animals for food, and the American bison has been bred with domestic cattle to form a cross called the beefalo. The American bison is commonly (though improperly) called a buffalo; an image of the bison appeared on the inverse of the U. S. five-cent coin (nickel) from 1913 to 1937, and that coin was referred to as the buffalo nickel.
[1913 Webster +PJC]
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Wed 26th February 2020