Definition of hyena
: any of several large strong nocturnal carnivorous Old World mammals (family Hyaenidae) that usually feed as scavengers
hyenicplay \-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.
Origin and Etymology of hyena
Middle English hyene, from Latin hyaena, from Greek hyaina, from hys hog — more at sow
First Known Use: 14th century
HYENA Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of hyena for English Language Learners
: a large animal of Asia and Africa that eats the flesh of dead animals
HYENA Defined for Kids
Definition of hyena for Students
: a large doglike mammal of Asia and Africa that lives on flesh
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