from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various large stinging wasps of the family Vespidae, chiefly of the genera Vespa and Vespula, that characteristically build large papery nests.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An insect of the wasp family, of the genus Vespa, much larger and stronger than wasps of other species, and capable of inflicting a more severe and painful sting.
  • noun Figuratively, a person who annoys by frequent and persistent petty attacks.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A large, strong wasp. The European species (Vespa crabro) is of a dark brown and yellow color. It is very pugnacious, and its sting is very severe. Its nest is constructed of a paperlike material, and the layers of comb are hung together by columns. The American white-faced hornet (Vespa maculata) is larger and has similar habits.
  • noun (Zoöl.) any dipterous insect of the genus Asilus, and allied genera, of which there are numerous species. They are large and fierce flies which capture bees and other insects, often larger than themselves, and suck their blood. Called also hawk fly, robber fly.
  • noun [Colloq.] to provoke the attack of a swarm of spiteful enemies or spirited critics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A large wasp, of the genus Vespa, with a brown and yellow striped body and capable of inflicting a serious sting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun large stinging paper wasp


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English hornet, alteration (probably influenced by horn, horn) of hernet, from Old English hyrnet; see ker- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English hernet, from Old English hyrnetu, hyrnete, from Proto-Germanic *hurznutō (compare German Hornisse), alteration of Proto-Germanic *hurzulōn (compare Dutch horzel), from Proto-Indo-European *k̑érh₂sr- (compare Welsh creyryn 'wasp', Latin crābrō 'hornet', Tocharian kronše 'bee', Lithuanian širšė 'wasp', Old Church Slavonic сръшень (srŭšenĭ) 'hornet', Albanian grerë, grenzë 'wasp, hornet').


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