Definition of echidna in English:



  • A spiny insectivorous egg-laying mammal with a long snout and claws, native to Australia and New Guinea.

    Also called spiny anteater
    • ‘These exotic egg-laying animals are represented by just three species: the duck-billed platypus and two echidnas.’
    • ‘Maybe you would see koalas, wombats, echidnas, brush tail and ring tail possums and emus if you're lucky.’
    • ‘The platypus and the echidna - a nocturnal, burrowing mammal with a spiny coat, long claws, and no teeth - are the only known living members of a type of animal known as monotremes.’
    • ‘But it is the immediate predecessor of modern mammals, such as the platypus and the echidna.’
    • ‘Unlike platypuses, echidnas lack webbing and instead have large, shovel-like claws are present on all feet.’


Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek ekhidna viper also the name of a mythical creature that gave birth to the many-headed Hydra; compare with ekhinos sea urchin, hedgehog.