or hy·ae·na



a doglike carnivore of the family Hyaenidae, of Africa, southwestern Asia, and south central Asia, having a coarse coat, a sloping back, and large teeth and feeding chiefly on carrion, often in packs.

Origin of hyena

1350–1400; Middle English hiena < Medieval Latin hyēna, Latin hyaena < Greek hýaina, equivalent to hy- (stem of hŷs) hog + -aina feminine suffix; replacing Middle English hyane, hyene < Middle French hiene < Latin
Related formshy·e·nic, hy·e·nine [hahy-ee-nahyn, -nin] /haɪˈi naɪn, -nɪn/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hyena

Historical Examples of hyena

  • That night he slipped through the dark, like a hyena pup, to Ringwood.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Look at the case of the "Hyena," as he was called in his prime.


    Scian Dubh

  • The third is found at the point called the Plateau of Hyena.

  • Then there were loud guffaws, and oaths, and cries like the cry of the hyena.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • One heard from the depths of the jungle the tittering of a hyena.


    Stephen French Whitman

British Dictionary definitions for hyena




any of several long-legged carnivorous doglike mammals of the genera Hyaena and Crocuta, such as C. crocuta (spotted or laughing hyena), of Africa and S Asia: family Hyaenidae, order Carnivora (carnivores)See also strandwolf
Derived Formshyenic or hyaenic, adjective

Word Origin for hyena

C16: from Medieval Latin, from Latin hyaena, from Greek huaina, from hus hog
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 hyena

mid-14c., from Old French hiene, from Latin hyaena, from Greek hyaina "swine" (fem.), from hys "pig" + fem. suffix -aina. So called for its bristles. Applied to cruel, treacherous, and greedy persons since at least 1670s. Adjectival forms that have been attempted in English include hyenaish, hyenaesque, hyenic, hyenine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper