hyena

play
noun hy·e·na \hī-ˈē-nə\

Definition of hyena

plural

hyenas

also

hyena

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

hyenic

play \-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

hyena

play
noun hy·e·na \hī-ˈē-nə\

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

hyena

play
noun hy·e·na \hī-ˈē-nə\

Definition of hyena for Students

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


Learn More about hyena


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up hyena? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a harsh rebuke

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog--hot-dog-cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ