• synonyms


See more synonyms for echidna on Thesaurus.com
  1. Also called spiny anteater. any of several insectivorous monotremes of the genera Tachyglossus, of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, and Zaglossus, of New Guinea, that have claws and a slender snout and are covered with coarse hair and long spines.
Show More

Origin of echidna

< New Latin (1798), originally a genus name; Latin: serpent, Echidna a mythical creature which gave birth to the Hydra and other monsters < Greek échidna, akin to échis viper
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for echidna

Historical Examples

  • Echidna was a bloodthirsty monster, half maiden, half serpent.

    Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome

    E.M. Berens

  • The Ornithorhyncus has fur, the Echidna has spines, with hairs between them.

  • Man-serpent, therefore, in Dante, as Echidna is woman-serpent.

  • In Ornithorhynchus the zygomatic arch is much stouter than in Echidna.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

  • In Echidna the carpus is broad, the scaphoid and lunar are united and there is no centrale.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for echidna


noun plural -nas or -nae (-niː)
  1. any of the spine-covered monotreme mammals of the genera Tachyglossus of Australia and Zaglossus of New Guinea: family Tachyglossidae. They have a long snout and claws for hunting ants and termitesAlso called: spiny anteater
Show More

Word Origin

C19: from New Latin, from Latin: viper, from Greek ekhidna
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 echidna


Australian egg-laying hedgehog-like mammal, 1847, usually explained as from Greek ekhidna "snake, viper," from ekhis "snake," from PIE *angwhi- "snake, eel" (cf. Norwegian igle, Old High German egala, German Egel "leech," Latin anguis "serpent, snake").

But this sense is difficult to reconcile with this animal (unless it is a reference to the ant-eating tongue), and the name seems more properly to belong to Latin echinus, Greek ekhinos "sea-urchin," originally "hedgehog" (in Greek also "sharp points"), which Watkins explains as "snake-eater," from ekhis "snake."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper