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hornet

[hawr-nit]
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noun
  1. 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.
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Origin of hornet

before 900; Middle English harnete, Old English hyrnet(u); cognate with Old High German hornaz (> German Horniss); akin to horn
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for hornet

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He went a-peekin' an' a-pryin' round my ears, as if he'd found a hornet's nest.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Our peaceful convent was from thenceforth like a bee-hive into which a hornet had entered.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • He recognized the nest as that of a variety of hornet which is large and valiant.

    Rodney, the Ranger

    John V. Lane

  • The hornet was too small to be struck by the arrows of the lightning.

    The Book of Nature Myths

    Florence Holbrook

  • So the hornet is now an oriole, a bird that is loved by every one.

    The Book of Nature Myths

    Florence Holbrook


British Dictionary definitions for hornet

hornet

noun
  1. any of various large social wasps of the family Vespidae, esp Vespa crabro of Europe, that can inflict a severe sting
  2. hornet's nest a strongly unfavourable reaction (often in the phrase stir up a hornet's nest)
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Word Origin

Old English hyrnetu; related to Old Saxon hornut, Old High German hornuz
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 hornet

n.

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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hornet

hornet

see mad as a hornet; stir up a hornet's nest.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.