Etymology
Advertisement

hyena (n.)

mid-14c., from Old French hiene, from Latin hyaena, from Greek hyaina "hyena," apparently a fem. formation from hys "pig," from PIE *su- "swine" (see sow (n.)). With fem. suffix -aina. So called for its bristles. Applied to cruel, treacherous, and greedy persons at least since 1670s. Adjectival forms that have been attempted in English include hyenaish, hyenaesque, hyenic, hyenine, hyenoid.

updated on September 18, 2015

Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of hyena from WordNet

hyena (n.)
doglike nocturnal mammal of Africa and southern Asia that feeds chiefly on carrion;
Synonyms: hyaena
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.