A large goat antelope (Capra falconeri) of the western Himalayas, having a brownish coat, corkscrew-shaped horns, and long fur on the neck and chest in the male.
[Ultimately (partly via Kashmiri, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu) from Persian mārkhōr, variant (influenced by khor-, stem of khordan, to eat) of mārkhwār, literally "snake-eater" (the markhor being so called because of the widespread Eurasian folk belief that certain ungulates eat snakes, perhaps inspired by the markhor's coiled, serpentine horns, or by the dark green bezoars of old markhor bucks, traditionally prized as an antidote to poison) : mār, snake (from Middle Persian, perhaps from Old Iranian *marthra-, killer; see mer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + -khwār, eater (from Old Iranian *-khvāra-; see MANTICORE).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.