any large, stinging paper wasp of the family Vespidae, as Vespa crabro(giant hornet), introduced into the U.S. from Europe, or Vespula maculata(bald-faced hornet or white-faced hornet), of North America.
Origin of hornet
before 900;Middle Englishharnete,Old Englishhyrnet(u); cognate with Old High Germanhornaz (> GermanHorniss); akin to horn
Old English hyrnet, hurnitu "large wasp, beetle," probably from Proto-Germanic *hurz-nut- (cf. Old Saxon hornut, Middle Dutch huersel, Dutch horzel, Old High German hornaz, German Hornisse "hornet"), from PIE imitative (buzzing) root *krs-, as preserved in Old Church Slavonic srusa, Lithuanian szirszu "wasp." On this theory, the English word (as well as German Hornisse) was altered by influence of horn, to suggest either "horner" (from the sting) or "horn-blower" (from the buzz). Cf. also Old Saxon hornobero "hornet," literally "trumpeter."