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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Rufous \Ru"fous\, a. [L. rufus.] Reddish; of a yellowish red or brownish red color; tawny.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"reddish-brown," 1782, from Latin rufus "red, reddish, red-haired," from Osco-Umbrian cognate of Latin ruber "red" (see red (adj.1)).


a. of a red, reddish colour


Rufous is a colour that may be described as reddish-brown or brownish-red, as of rust or oxidised iron. The first recorded use of rufous as a colour name in English was in 1782. However, the colour is also recorded earlier in 1527 as a diagnostic urine colour.

The name "rufous" is derived from the meaning of "red" in Latin and is used as an adjective in the names of many animals, especially birds, to describe the colour of their skin, fur or plumage.

Usage examples of "rufous".

It is punctulated with yellowish on the head, sides of face and body and outside of limbs, and with rich rufous on the middle of the back.

The general colour a dark brown with yellowish hairs intermingled, which give a somewhat rufous tinge, paler beneath.

Rufous and the other bulls began a strange but long-inherited chain of behavior.

Never again would the old fellow mount a cow, for if he were to try, the younger bulls would challenge him, remembering that Rufous had humiliated him.

When Rufous and the other bulls gathered about him to smell whatever mementos there were of the disaster, they could tell that the blood on his right horn was not his.

With great intensity he watched the three or four older bulls that commanded the cows, and especially he kept his eye on Rufous.

Insolently he muscled his way through the younger bulls, always keeping his eye on Rufous.

When snow covered the prairies and freezing winds with temperatures far below zero swept in from the west where the mountains stood, Rufous stayed alone, turning his matted head into the storm and doggedly waiting until the blizzard subsided.

Cat, much developed in the fore-quarters, with short, close hair of a bright rufous ground tint from every shade of pale yellow ochre to burnt sienna, with black stripes arranged irregularly and seldom in two individuals alike, the stripes being also irregular in form, from single streaks to loops and broad bands.

As spring approached and the snows melted, disclosing a short, rich grass refreshed by moisture, the herd began to mill about as if it wished to move to other ground, and one morning as Rufous was grazing in the soft land between the twin pillars, with the warm sun of spring on his back, one of the cows started nudging her way among the other cows and butting the older bulls.

In his rufous looks, he took after his daddy, he had the same kind of husky mulishness, but he lacked the fiery color and bold eyes.

The little bull enjoyed the wild excitement of the chase so much that thereafter he roamed with Rufous, and when their herd reassembled under the leadership of their determined cow, the two moved eastward to the twin pillars, where the self-orphaned bull grew into a stalwart animal.