The word caracal comes from the Turkish word “karakulak”, meaning “black ear”. In North India and Pakistan, the caracal is locally known as syahgosh (स्याहगोष/سیاه گوش) which is a Persian term meaning black ears. In Afrikaans it is called Rooikat, “red cat”.
Although it has traditionally had the alternative names Persian lynx, Egyptian lynx and African lynx, it is no longer considered to be an actual lynx. Instead, it is now believed to be closely related to the African golden cat and the serval. The caracal is classified as a small cat, yet is amongst the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the quickest, being nearly as fast as the serval.
The caracal first became known to Western science from a German naturalist, Christian Daniel van Schreber (1739–1810), who illustrated and described a specimen from Table Mountain in Cape Town in 1776.