1. A bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) of the mountains of central China, having woolly fur with distinctive black and white markings. Also called giant panda, panda bear.
2. An arboreal raccoonlike mammal (Ailurus fulgens) of northeast Asia, having reddish fur, white face markings, and a long ringed tail. Also called lesser panda, red panda.
[French panda, (originally) red panda (now also giant panda), technical zoological name introduced in 1825 by Georges Léopold Cuvier, probably from shortening and alteration of a local term for the red panda in Nepal nigálya-pónya, cited in early British accounts of the animal : nigálya-, akin to Nepali niṅāle, relating to the bamboo species Drepanostachyum falcatum, red panda (which eats such bamboo) + ponya (meaning uncertain; perhaps akin to Nepali pauṃjā, paw, from alteration, influenced by panjā, claws, of earlier *pauṃco; akin to Hindi pahuṃcā, forearm, wrist, from Middle Indic *pahuñca, of unknown origin).]
(click for a larger image)panda
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.