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  1. a large salamander, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, of rivers and streams in eastern North America, having a flat, stout body and broad head.
  2. Informal. a reckless or headstrong person.

Origin of hellbender

An Americanism dating back to 1805–15; hell + bender
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hellbender

Historical Examples

  • But little smaller, and even more ugly in appearance, is the "hellbender," representing the family Amphiumid.

    Zoology: The Science of Animal Life

    Ernest Ingersoll

  • There are several kinds in North America, some of which, as the hellbender, are a foot or more in length.

British Dictionary definitions for hellbender


  1. a very large dark grey aquatic salamander, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, with internal gills: inhabits rivers in E and central US: family Cryptobranchidae
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hellbender


large salamander of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, 1812, supposedly so called for its ugliness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper