Hippopotamus Meaning

Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning

Last Updated on October 3, 2020 by Avia

Highlights on Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning

Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning

In my work with interpreting animal symbolism, I’ve found some critters reveal themselves boldly and clearly. These animals are straightforward and generous with their messages. Others, not-so-much.

Creatures that like to keep their secrets (like crows, for example) demand strong commitments from us. They expect us to work for enlightenment. Then there are creatures that swing both ways.

The hippopotamus is one of these tricky creatures…candid with some messages, covert with others.

I say this because there are lots of surface facts and features about the hippo that are super-obvious. For example, symbolic hippopotamus meaning tends to take aim on the hippo’s girth. The sheer size of this animal is boggling. It’s also very obvious. They can weigh in around 4 tons, and play second fiddle in size only to the elephant (sometimes rhinoceros). So where’s the symbolic meaning in being gigantic? There are a couple of meanings. It implies big potential, big growth, and big power in cultural symbolism. It may also be symbolic of laziness and sloth according to certain religious symbology. But these are just surface observations. We owe it to ourselves and the hippo to see beyond the meaning of size.

Hippopotamus Meaning
Hippopotamus Meaning

“Never underestimate the power of dreams. The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

~Wilma Rudolph
Hippopotamus Meaning

To start our contemplation about hippopotamus meanings, here’s a keen list of keywords:

Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning Keywords

  • Power
  • Verbal
  • Fertility
  • Strength
  • Emotion
  • Assertive
  • Diversity
  • Greatness
  • Expressive
  • Creativity
  • Aggressive
  • Territorial
  • Supportive

Consider how the hippo maneuvers their size. They spend most of their time in the water (in fact, their name means “river horse”). Water displaces gravity – making us (and hippos) feel significantly lighter. On land, hippos have these neat feet which are four-toed. This displaces gravity too, making it easier for the hippo to lug around its weight. When we weigh these aspects, we could say symbolic hippopotamus meaning deals with embracing our magnitude and finding ways to manage our greatness.

Huh? Manage our greatness? I hear it now: “Avia, what does that mean!?” We are all big. We are all bold. We are all great. It’s true. We are all born to be dynamic. We are all born to expand and succeed. It’s the process of growing up, being socialized, taking a few hard knocks in life that beats the bigness out of us. Hippo reminds us of our birthright for greatness.

Huh? Manage our greatness? I hear it now: “Avia, what does that mean!?” We are all big. We are all bold. We are all great. It’s true. We are all born to be dynamic. We are all born to expand and succeed. It’s the process of growing up, being socialized, taking a few hard knocks in life that beats the bigness out of us. Hippo reminds us of our birthright for greatness.

Hippopotamus Meaning
Hippopotamus Meaning

As water is a creative element, this suggests a symbolic dialogue that says something like…

Potential Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning in Messages

♦  My intuition elevates me.

♦  How can I uplift my creativity?

♦  I’ve got big dreams. What sustains them?

♦  I may have a heavy heart, but my faith buoys me.

♦  What can I do to levitate when I feel so weighed down?

♦  How can I submerge myself into vast stores of creative intuition?

♦  I know I can float through any emotional burdens to see my goal.

♦  Inspiration and big creativity is just below the surface of my sight.

Pretty cool, eh? What’s even cooler is that’s just the surface of symbolic hippopotamus meaning. Take for example the hippo’s notorious temper. It’s got a reputation for being very cranky. That’s putting it lightly, really. The hippo can be super-aggressive. A lot of that aggression takes place in water. Did you know hippos are mostly territorial in the water? Not so much on land (unless defending their babies). This is symbolic fodder. When hippo shows up in our life, it may be a sign that we are defensive about certain things. Specifically, defensive about our dreams and emotions. As water is where the hippo is most territorial, it suggests a message of standing up for our territory in terms of dreams, goals, creative ambitions.

Hippopotamus Meaning
Hippopotamus Meaning

Let’s see…what other kind of symbolic messages might the hippo have to offer? What about that huge yap of theirs?

Now, I thought I had a big mouth – but hippo has me beat. It can open its mouth 180 degrees! Hippo also has crushingly strong jaws and teeth. What’s this all about on a symbolic level? Well, hippos don’t ‘open wiiiide’ for the dentist, that’s for sure. But they often open wide to scare predators and territorial trespassers away. Symbolically, jaws, teeth and mouth represent vocal expression. A strong jaw means we have strong ideas we want to speak about. If the hippo is paying you a visit, it may be a message to open wide, speak your mind, verbally defend your creative territory!

Potential Totem Meanings for Hippopotamus

I’ve touched on a lot of meanings the hippo holds for us. If the hippo is your totem animal, these themes will be particularly important.

Hippo is a great totem for those among us who have a hard time accepting our potential. Hippo reminds us we are born to be great. It also reminds us that support can be found to help us achieve our potential.

Hippo is also a totem for people who would prefer to live in their own creative realms. Those of us who can’t stand the weight of reality can identify with the hippo. Folks who thrive in their own dream world, and take only brief peeks into the ‘real’ world can get help from hippo. Hippo reminds us that we can submerge ourselves in our creative rivers and let our imaginations float. It’s all good! However, the hippo tells us we must also go on land (reality) from time to time. Remember those hippo feet – divinely designed to sustain their weight. Hippo lets you know you are divinely designed to sustain the weight of the outside world too.

Speaking of creativity – the hippo is a champion for defending creative ideas. The hippo and water are symbolic of fertility and creating good stuff. Hippos are territorial and aggressive in nature – this can bolster our belief in our ideals; they illustrate how to stand up for our cause. Call upon hippo-power when you need to defend your creative territory. Beckon for hippo-hulk-smash-energy when you need to speak your mind and stand up for your creative ideals.

Hippopotamus Meaning
Hippopotamus Meaning

Hippo might also be a great spirit-companion for those of us who want to get pregnant. Whoa? Yeah. In Egyptian mythology the hippo is synonymous with fertility, pregnancy and motherhood. Egyptians observed hippos lounging about the Nile river. That river is a symbol of life. It was the source of their livelihood, providing food, water, cleanliness. This connects the hippo with life.

Egyptians also noticed how terrifying mothers were in protecting their calves. In essence, do NOT mess with a baby hippo, ’cause mamma’s gonna go Medieval on you! The symbolism in this mythology isn’t necessarily physical pregnancy. Although, Egyptians invoked hippo energy for the purpose of getting pregnant, having a successful term and delivery. If you’re nowhere near the idea of literal pregnancy or motherhood…consider it as a metaphor. Is there a creative idea you want to give birth to? Call upon hippo to help you conceive your idea, nurture it and protect the dickens out of it!

Closing Thoughts on Symbolic Hippopotamus Meaning

Who knew the hippo had so much diversity to offer in symbolism? I did. Hee hee. Well, not totally true. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I knew the surface stuff. I knew the symbolic connection between hippo and water. And the biggety bigness of hippo was a no-brainer key point in symbolism. But as far as the nuances of asserting our creative selves – I had to really meditate on all that.

There’s more to hippopotamus meaning and messages, you know. If the hippo is floating down the rivers of your life – pay attention. Ask hippo why it’s there, and what it means. Odds are, you’ll find many more meanings than what I’ve written here.

As always, thanks for reading. If you dig this page, show the hippo some love and share on Facebook and Twitter! 🙂

May all your hippo encounters be big, bold and beautiful,


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