Also called spiny anteater. any of several insectivorous monotremes of the genera Tachyglossus, of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, and Zaglossus, of New Guinea, that have claws and a slender snout and are covered with coarse hair and long spines.

< Neo-Latin (1798), originally a genus name; Latin: serpent, Echidna a mythical creature which gave birth to the Hydra and other monsters < Greek échidna, akin to échis viper Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
echidna (ɪˈkɪdnə)
n , pl -nas, -nae
Also called: spiny anteater any of the spine-covered monotreme mammals of the genera Tachyglossus of Australia and Zaglossus of New Guinea: family Tachyglossidae. They have a long snout and claws for hunting ants and termites
[C19: from New Latin, from Latin: viper, from Greek ekhidna]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

Australian egg-laying hedgehog-like mammal, 1847, usually explained as from Gk. ekhidna "snake, viper," from ekhis "snake," from PIE *angwhi- "snake, eel." But this sense is difficult to reconcile (unless it is a reference to the ant-eating tongue), and it seems more properly to belong to L. echinus,
Gk. ekhinos "hedgehog" (in Gk. also "sea-urchin"), which Watkins explains as "snake-eater," from ekhis "snake."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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