spotted hyena

noun

: a hyena (Crocuta crocuta) of sub-Saharan Africa that has a tan to reddish-brown coat with dark roundish spots, a large head, long muzzle, powerful jaws, and rounded ears

Note: In addition to being an efficient scavenger, the spotted hyena is a skilled hunter, preying on various large animals (such as wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras). The spotted hyena communicates using a variety of vocalizations including groans, squeals, laughs, whoops, and growls.

It's never wise to make a spotted hyena nervous. Among the deadliest of African predators, they can eat and digest whole carcasses, including skin and bones. Natural History
… female spotted hyenas are bigger and more aggressive than males. Every clan is a matriarchy ruled by an alpha female. Steve Kemper
Biologists remained unsure why spotted hyenas giggle but theorized that the giggles may express frustration. Harper's Magazine

called also laughing hyena

Word History

First Known Use

1771, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spotted hyena was in 1771

Dictionary Entries Near spotted hyena

Cite this Entry

“Spotted hyena.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spotted%20hyena. Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

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