Definition of hyena in English:


(also hyaena)


  • A doglike African mammal with forelimbs that are longer than the hindlimbs and an erect mane. Hyenas are noted as scavengers but most are also effective hunters.

    • ‘Golden jackals, hyenas and even leopards are present but very rarely seen.’
    • ‘The film also shows some behavior not seen before, especially the rivalry between leopards and hyenas.’
    • ‘Coalitions between postdispersal males and adult female hyenas were rare.’
    • ‘The hyena exploits carcasses more fully than either cat because of its bone-cracking abilities.’
    • ‘We collected body and tooth measurements from all immobilized hyenas.’
    • ‘These specimens cover the current and historical range of spotted, striped, and brown hyenas.’
    • ‘As a result, the scavenger hyenas deplete all the resources in the Pridelands, and the land falls apart.’
    • ‘Lions and hyaenas were present throughout the study area.’
    • ‘One minute you're sobbing enough to fill your sister's kiddie pool and laughing like a hyena the next.’
    • ‘I have been filming for 14 years now, working with hyenas, leopards, and jackals.’
    • ‘They showed that she had in fact managed to feed on the hyena.’
    • ‘Other bones were probably brought in and chewed on by hyenas and other carnivores.’
    • ‘And in a contest of social acumen between hyenas and monkeys, who knows who would get the last laugh?’
    • ‘It lets hyenas crush carcasses with their jaws and enables elephants to support their massive bodies.’
    • ‘The first deer and giraffes also appear, along with the first hyenas.’
    • ‘The massive vultures also use their might to fend off hyenas and snap up the occasional live flamingo.’
    • ‘The easiest solution is to kill hyenas, jackals and leopards with poisoned carcasses.’
    • ‘In hyenas, bones are cracked open by use of their enlarged upper and lower third premolars.’
    • ‘Although similar in appearance to hyenas, African wild dogs are nevertheless true wild canidae.’
    • ‘Cheetahs make use of various techniques in order to minimize direct interactions with lions and hyenas.’


Middle English: via Latin from Greek huaina, feminine of hus pig (the transference of the term probably being because the animal's mane was thought to resemble a hog's bristles).