hy·​rax ˈhī-ˌraks How to pronounce hyrax (audio)
: any of a family (Procaviidae) of small ungulate mammals of Africa and the Middle East characterized by thickset body with short legs and ears and rudimentary tail, feet with soft pads and broad nails, and teeth of which the molars resemble those of the rhinoceros and the incisors those of rodents

called also coney, dassie

Illustration of hyrax

Illustration of hyrax

Examples of hyrax in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Birdlife is profuse and there’s a chance of spotting sea lions, dolphins, blue duiker antelope, hyrax and the cape clawless otters that give the trail its name. Joe Yogerst, CNN, 3 May 2023 Sticky and viscous like molasses, hyrax urine hardens quickly in air. Elise Cutts, Scientific American, 14 Mar. 2023 To find out more about the evolutionary history of LIF and its duplicates, Lynch found their counterparts in the genomes of closely related species: manatees, hyraxes and extinct mammoths and mastodons. Quanta Magazine, 7 Nov. 2017 Many hyraxes have taken residence within its walls and can be seen scrambling along the ruins during the cooler parts of the day. National Geographic, 16 Apr. 2019 The largest sea lions are twice as big as the largest bears, for example, and manatees outweigh their cat-size hyrax cousins by nearly 500 kilograms. Angus Chen, Science | AAAS, 26 Mar. 2018 Besides giraffes, the African exhibit will include a lion, hyrax, wildebeest and tortoise. The Associated Press, The Seattle Times, 29 May 2017 Ilany studies the rock hyrax, an African rodent-like mammal that isn’t monogamous but whose sexes look the same. National Geographic, 20 Feb. 2016 To figure out who's who around hyraxes, use your ears: Males sing to attract females, while females don't sing at all. National Geographic, 20 Feb. 2016 See More

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Word History


Greek hyrak-, hyrax shrew

First Known Use

1832, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hyrax was in 1832

Dictionary Entries Near hyrax

Cite this Entry

“Hyrax.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hyrax. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


hy·​rax ˈhī-ˌraks How to pronounce hyrax (audio)
plural hyraxes
also hyraces
: any of several small mammals of Africa and the Middle East that have a thickset body with short ears, legs, and tail and feet with soft pads and broad nails

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