Definitions

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

  • n. 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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.
  • n. A complex, multifarious problem or situation that cannot be solved easily and rapidly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. Hence: A multifarious evil, or an evil having many sources; not to be overcome by a single effort.
  • n. Any small fresh-water hydroid of the genus Hydra, usually found attached to sticks, stones, etc., by a basal sucker.
  • n. A southern constellation of great length lying southerly from Cancer, Leo, and Virgo.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. Hence—2. Figuratively, multifarious evil; evil or misfortune arising from many sources and not easily to be surmounted.
  • n. [capitalized] An ancient southern constellation, representing a sea-serpent.
  • n. In zoology: A venomous sea-snake; any one of the Hydrophidæ of the Indian ocean.
  • n. In Hydrozoa: [capitalized] A genus of fresh-water polyps of very simple structure, typical of the family Hydridæ.
  • n. An individual or a species of the genus Hydra.
  • n. The sexual bud or medusa of any hydroid hydrozoan: so called from its resemblance to a species of the genus Hydra.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a long faint constellation in the southern hemisphere near the equator stretching between Virgo and Cancer
  • n. small tubular solitary freshwater hydrozoan polyp
  • n. trouble that cannot be overcome by a single effort because of its many aspects or its persistent and pervasive quality
  • n. (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

  • But controlling that kind of hydra could prove tricky even for Bush's vaunted strategist Karl Rove.

    OF PRAYER AND PAYBACK

  • We learn more in episode 05 as Sheryl and Alto visit the different islands - including the agriculture and livestock sector where Zentraedi are very much part of the process; then in episode 09, where the government considers the impact of the Vajra attacks on the water supply; and furthermore in episode 10, where illegal introduction of species (a 'hydra' from planet Eden, an advanced predator) risks upsetting the biodiversity balance.

    Anime Nano!

  • The group, described by one critic as a "hydra" for its many interconnected boards, foundations, groups and organizations, essentially has created its own economy, with the tens of millions of dollars that are donated by foundations or paid by the government being directed to whatever cause or course of action ACORN officials deem worthy.

    ChronWatch - Articles

  • "One must go into a far distant forest," he says "Where there is a beast called the hydra, and cut off his seven heads.

    A History of Pantomime

  • Picking up more or less where Percy Jackson's first adventure started in The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters has our young hero doing battle with hungry cannibals, a hydra, and an old nemesis to save the magical tree that keeps Camp Half-Blood protected from those wishing harm upon it.

    Willpower from Supertown Emotes Like Crazy

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "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