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Word of the Day
Friday, March 03, 2017

Definitions for hydra

  1. a persistent or many-sided problem that presents new obstacles as soon as one aspect is solved.
  2. (often initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. a water or marsh serpent with nine heads, each of which, if cut off, grew back as two; Hercules killed this serpent by cauterizing the necks as he cut off the heads.
  3. any freshwater polyp of the genus Hydra and related genera, having a cylindrical body with a ring of tentacles surrounding the mouth, and usually living attached to rocks, plants, etc., but also capable of detaching and floating in the water.

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Citations for hydra
I was very bitter, I know, upon this night of which I am now particularly telling, and the only face upon the hydra of Capitalism and Monopoly that I could see at all clearly, smiled exactly as old Rawdon had smiled when he refused to give me more than a paltry twenty shillings a week. H. G. Wells, In the Days of the Comet, 1906
That, to me, speaks volumes about the primary challenge of opposing the 50-headed hydra of Wall Street corruption, which is that it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. Matt Taibbi, "My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters," Rolling Stone, October 12, 2011
Origin of hydra
Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-c1400) was the first English writer to use ydre, the nine-headed serpent. Middle French ydre derives from Latin hydra, itself a borrowing of Greek hýdra “water-serpent.” Hýdra is closely related to Greek hýdōr “water,” and both words come from the Proto-Indo-European root wed-, wod-, ud- “wet, water.” This same root is the source of “wet, water,” and “wash” in Germanic (English); of voda “water” and vodka “vodka” in Slavic (Czech), of Hittite wātar “water.” Ud- is the variant of the root for both Greek hýdōr and Old Irish uisce “water” (from unattested ud-skio-) and the immediate source of English whisky/whiskey.