Hun

[ huhn ]
/ hʌn /

noun

a member of a nomadic and warlike Asian people who devastated or controlled large parts of eastern and central Europe and who exercised their greatest power under Attila in the 5th century a.d.
(often lowercase) a barbarous, destructive person; vandal.
Older Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to a German, especially a German soldier in World War I or II.

Origin of Hun

before 900; 1895–1900 for def 3; singular of Huns, Old English Hūnas; cognate with Old Norse Hūnar; akin to Late Latin Hunnī

usage note for Hun

The disparaging and offensive use of this term likens the Germans to the barbarous and warlike Huns of the 4th and 5th centuries. The source of the comparison was a speech by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900, encouraging German soldiers bound for China to act toward the Chinese just like “the Huns a thousand years ago.”

OTHER WORDS FROM Hun

Hun·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does hun mean?

Hun can be a term of endearment, a phonetic spelling from a shortening of honey.

It’s also used as a derogatory slang term for women involved in multi-level marketing.

Where does hun come from?

The slang hun (from honey as an affectionate or familiar term of address) comes from a stereotype about women who work in multi-level marketing (MLM). The stereotype is that these women flatter people, or try to sound folksy, when attempting to make a sale or attract a new recruit, but becoming nasty upon resistance or rejection. For instance: Hey, hun, this could be your opportunity to make millions. Hun, as an affectionate term of address in a place of a specific name, also allows for quickly creating marketing messages in emails or on social media.

In MLM, salespersons have to work their networks to get new recruits and sales. But MLMs are popularly seen as pyramid schemes, and MLM workers as bombarding their friends and family about “exciting new business opportunities.” The stereotypically spammy nature of these messages earned these huns the additional nickname: hunbot on online forums like Reddit, a reference to the programmed language of chatbots or spambots.

Hun spread online in the mid-2010s, when MLM became more commonplace on social media, especially in Facebook groups among some young, stay-at-home moms, the type imagined to use a chummy hun.

Unrelated meanings of hun include the fearsome 5th-century Asiatic nomads, the Huns, notably Attila; the Irish Catholic slur hun for a Northern Irish Protestant; and the derogatory slang hun for a German, especially a German soldier during World War I and II.

How is hun used in real life?

People who oppose MLM—in particular ex-participants who felt taken advantage of—are the ones who most frequently use the terms hun and hunbot. Active MLM workers generally find hun offensive; they prefer to think of themselves as entrepreneurs.

More examples of hun:

I had been ‘hunzoned’; lulled into a false sense of security with someone who purported to be interested in me as a person, but was actually just trying to recruit me into their multi-level marketing scheme.
—Jessica Lindsay, Metro, July 2019

“ … MLM sellers, or huns, trying to capitalize on people’s greatest tragedies and heartbreaks in the most crass, opportunistic, and grotesque ways. Below, for example, a hun shills her CBD oil as a cure for PTSD by piggybacking off of Memorial Day.”
—Cassidy McGillicuddy, Patheos, May 2019

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for hun

British Dictionary definitions for hun

Hun
/ (hʌn) /

noun

a member of any of several Asiatic nomadic peoples speaking Mongoloid or Turkic languages who dominated much of Asia and E Europe from before 300 bc, invading the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries a.d
informal (esp in World War I) a derogatory name for a German (def. 2)
informal a vandal

Derived forms of Hun

Hunlike, adjective

Word Origin for Hun

Old English Hūnas, from Late Latin Hūnī, from Turkish Hun-yū
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