See also: tāipán and tai-pan



Etymology 1Edit

English Wikipedia has an article on:

From Cantonese 大班 (daai6 baan1, big shot, rich businessman), originally as taepan.[1] Related to tycoon, from Japanese 大君 (taikun) – the first half of both comes from the Chinese root (big, great).

Alternative formsEdit


taipan (plural taipans)

  1. A foreign businessman in China; a tycoon. [from 19th c.]
    • 1922, W. Somerset Maugham, "The Taipan":
      Of course it was very sad, but the taipan could hardly help a smile when he thought how many of these young fellows he had drunk underground.
    • 1977, John Le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy, Folio Society 2010, p. 438:
      The British taipans stood in one sodden circle with their womenfolk, like bored officers at a garrison get-together.
Usage notesEdit

Relatively narrow usage, and somewhat dated (early/mid 20th century); primarily known outside of China due to use in fiction set in Hong Kong, notably The Taipan (1922) by Somerset Maugham and Tai-Pan (1966) by James Clavell. Even in Hong Kong, the more globally widespread (and distantly related) tycoon is more common today.

Related termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

An inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)
English Wikipedia has an article on:

From the name of the Thaypan tribe of Aboriginal people of central Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia, or from Wik-Mungkan tay-pan[2] (or dhayban[3]).


taipan (plural taipans)

  1. Any venomous elapid snake of the genus Oxyuranus, found in Australia and New Guinea. [from 20th c.]
Derived termsEdit


  1. ^ “taipan” in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, →ISBN.
  2. ^ "taipan" in The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition Unabridged, New York: Random House, Inc, 1987.
  3. ^ "taipan" in Joan Hughes, editor, Australian Words and Their Origins, p. 570. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1989.




taipan f (plural taipans)

  1. taipan (venomous snake of the genus Oxyuranus)