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

British Dictionary definitions for hell-bender


  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 hell-bender



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper