Definitions

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

  • noun Any of several small solitary freshwater hydrozoans of the genus Hydra and related genera, having a cylindrical body and a mouth surrounded by tentacles.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In Greek myth, a monstrous serpent or dragon of the lake or marsh of Lerna in Argolis, represented as having nine heads, each of which, being cut off, was immediately succeeded by two new ones unless the wound was cauterized. The destruction of this monster was one of the twelve labors of Hercules.
  • noun Hence—2. Figuratively, multifarious evil; evil or misfortune arising from many sources and not easily to be surmounted.
  • noun [capitalized] An ancient southern constellation, representing a sea-serpent.
  • noun In zoology: A venomous sea-snake; any one of the Hydrophidæ of the Indian ocean.
  • noun In Hydrozoa: [capitalized] A genus of fresh-water polyps of very simple structure, typical of the family Hydridæ.
  • noun An individual or a species of the genus Hydra.
  • noun The sexual bud or medusa of any hydroid hydrozoan: so called from its resemblance to a species of the genus Hydra.
  • noun A form of self-registering thermometer having a compound head or bulb to contain the spirits, with the object of increasing the surface exposed to the air, and thus making the instrument work with great rapidity.

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

  • noun (Class. Myth.) A serpent or monster in the lake or marsh of Lerna, in the Peloponnesus, represented as having many heads, one of which, when cut off, was immediately succeeded by two others, unless the wound was cauterized. It was slain by Hercules. Hence, a terrible monster.
  • noun Hence: A multifarious evil, or an evil having many sources; not to be overcome by a single effort.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any small fresh-water hydroid of the genus Hydra, usually found attached to sticks, stones, etc., by a basal sucker.
  • noun (Astron.) A southern constellation of great length lying southerly from Cancer, Leo, and Virgo.

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

  • noun Any of several small freshwater polyps of the genus Hydra and related genera, having a naked cylindrical body and an oral opening surrounded by tentacles.
  • noun A complex, multifarious problem or situation that cannot be solved easily and rapidly.

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

  • noun a long faint constellation in the southern hemisphere near the equator stretching between Virgo and Cancer
  • noun small tubular solitary freshwater hydrozoan polyp
  • noun trouble that cannot be overcome by a single effort because of its many aspects or its persistent and pervasive quality
  • noun (Greek mythology) monster with nine heads; when struck off each head was replaced by two new ones

Etymologies

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

[New Latin Hydra, genus name, from Latin Hydra, Hydra; see Hydra.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

After the Hydra, from Greek mythology, which grew two new heads every time one of its heads was cut off. The first sense alludes to the budding method of asexual reproduction that the hydra practices, similar to growing new heads. The second sense refers to how the creature could not be killed by a swift, decisive solution (in contrast to a Gordian knot).

Examples

  • The Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd.), has rated performance of the Nigerian press very high in recent years considering what he described as the hydra-headed challenges journalists encounter in the discharge of their duties.

    Thisday Online

  • Nothing in nature is immortal, but some clams can live centuries and a tiny freshwater creature called a hydra lives a very long time, at least until its pond dries up.

    Author Explores Quest for Immortality

  • The next thing that he had done was to fight a battle with an ugly sort of monster, called a hydra, which had no less than nine heads, and exceedingly sharp teeth in every one.

    Myths That Every Child Should Know A Selection Of The Classic Myths Of All Times For Young People

  • The next thing that he had done was to fight a battle with an ugly sort of monster, called a hydra, which had no less than nine heads, and exceedingly sharp teeth in every one of them.

    The Three Golden Apples (From: "A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys")

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

  • You did extensive experiments with the hydra in the early 1970s in England at the University of Sussex, and term the hydra's regenerating process self-organization.

    ScreenTalk

Comments

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  • "The third indictment has been filed in the hydra-headed 'Ergenekon' trial of nearly two hundred people suspected of playing a role in a variety of crimes and plots to undermine the stability of Turkey in order to create conditions for a coup and of plotting coups against the elected government."

    - Jenny White, Ergenekon Update: Third Indictment, kamilpasha.com, 6 August 2009.

    August 14, 2009