hyena

noun
hy·​e·​na | \hī-ˈē-nə \
plural hyenas also hyena

Definition of hyena 

: any of several large strong nocturnal carnivorous Old World mammals (family Hyaenidae) that usually feed as scavengers

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Other Words from hyena

hyenic \hī-​ˈē-​nik, -​ˈe-​nik \ adjective

Did You Know?

There are three species of hyena— doglike carnivores found in Asia and Africa. Actually more closely related to cats than to dogs, hyenas have coarse fur, four toes on each foot, long forelegs, claws that do not retract, 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 6½ ft (1.8 m) long, including the 12-in (30-cm) tail, and weighs up to 175 lb (80 kg). The hyena has been known to attack people and even to carry off young children.

Examples of hyena in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

As such, prisoners were held inside prison cells along with animals like hyenas, lions and tigers for intimidation purposes. Elias Meseret, The Seattle Times, "Ethiopia arrests former president of the Somali region," 27 Aug. 2018 In reality, many liberals may be pig-selfish, and many conservatives may have the character of a hyena, but let that pass. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "There’s Too Much Virtue in Politics," 31 July 2018 But people are obviously attached to their dogs, and here they are needed for hunting and to protect huts against thieves, crops against baboons, and livestock against hyenas. New York Times, "Nearly Eradicated in Humans, the Guinea Worm Finds New Victims: Dogs," 18 June 2018 Three deer, six raccoons, a hyena and an alligator. Carol Motsinger, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Zoo just got a $50 million gift. But it's just the beginning of a big plan," 7 June 2018 From the beginning, the thylacine’s common names—zebra wolf, tiger wolf, opossum-hyena, Tasmanian dingo—marked it as another chimera, too incongruous to understand on its own terms. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger," 16 Jan. 2012 The researchers studied eight different meat-eating animals, looking at the ferret, banded mongoose, raccoon, domestic cat, domestic dog, striped hyena, lion, and brown bear. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Study Says Dogs Are Actually Smarter Than Cats," 18 June 2018 The hyena, pelican and monkey had never met before they were frozen in time in a Noah's Ark of formaldehyde. Oded Balilty, Fox News, "AP PHOTOS: Long-dead critters animate Israel's nature museum," 11 June 2018 In the wild, giraffes typically go off into woods to give birth and provide cover from predators like lions, hyenas and leopards. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Zoo's latest resident is 6 feet, 1 inch of adorableness," 22 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hyena.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hyena

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hyena

Middle English hyene, from Latin hyaena, from Greek hyaina, from hys hog — more at sow

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Dictionary Entries near hyena

Hydrurus

Hydrus

hydt

hyena

hyena dog

Hyenia

Hyeniales

Statistics for hyena

Last Updated

24 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hyena

The first known use of hyena was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for hyena

hyena

noun

English Language Learners Definition of hyena

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

hyena

noun
hy·​e·​na | \hī-ˈē-nə \

Kids Definition of hyena

: a large doglike mammal of Asia and Africa that lives on flesh

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More from Merriam-Webster on hyena

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hyena

Spanish Central: Translation of hyena

Nglish: Translation of hyena for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hyena for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hyena

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