noun \hī-ˈē-nə\

: a large animal of Asia and Africa that eats the flesh of dead animals

plural hyenas also hyena

Full Definition of HYENA

:  any of several large strong nocturnal carnivorous Old World mammals (family Hyaenidae) that usually feed as scavengers
hy·e·nic \-ˈē-nik, -ˈe-nik\ adjective

Origin of HYENA

Middle English hyene, from Latin hyaena, from Greek hyaina, from hys hog — more at sow
First Known Use: 14th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any of three species of coarse-furred, doglike carnivores (family Hyaenidae) found in Asia and Africa. Actually more closely related to cats than to dogs, they have four toes on each foot, long forelegs, nonretractile claws, and enormously strong jaws and teeth. They live alone or in packs and may be active by night or day. Hyenas are noted for scavenging but will also attack live prey. The spotted, or laughing, hyena, whose calls alternately resemble wailing and maniacal laughter, ranges through much of sub-Saharan Africa. Yellowish or grayish with dark spots, it is about 6.5 ft (1.8 m) long, including the 12-in. (30-cm) tail, and weighs up to 175 lbs (80 kg). It has been known to attack people and even carry off young children.


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