Monoceros (legendary creature)

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The monoceros (above) as pictured in the Bodleian Library, Ashmole Bestiary, Folio 21r.

The monoceros (Greek: μονοκέρως) is a legendary animal with only one horn.


It derives from the Greek word Μονόκερως, a compound word from μόνος (monos) which means "only one" / "single" and κέρας (keras)(neuter gender, which means "horn".

The monoceros was first described in Pliny the Elder's Natural History as a creature with the body of a horse, the head of a stag (minus the antlers), the feet of an elephant, and the tail of a wild boar. It has one black horn in the middle of its forehead, which is two cubits in length, and is impossible to capture alive.[1]

In today's English language, the term monoceros typically refers to a unicorn or similar one-horned creature.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ introduction, Pliny the Elder ; translated with an; Healy, notes by John F. (1991). Natural history. London, England: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140444131. 
  2. ^ "monoceros". OED Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 October 2014.