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echidna

[ih-kid-nuh] /ɪˈkɪd nə/
noun
1.
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.
Origin
< 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
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for echidnas

echidna

/ɪˈkɪdnə/
noun (pl) -nas, -nae (-niː)
1.
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 Also called spiny anteater
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin, from Latin: viper, from Greek ekhidna
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for echidnas
echidna
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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Encyclopedia Article for echidnas

Echidna

monster of Greek mythology, half woman, half serpent. Her parents were either the sea deities Phorcys and Ceto (according to Hesiod's Theogony) or Tartarus and Gaia (in the account of the mythographer Apollodorus); in Hesiod, Tartarus and Gaia are the parents of Echidna's husband, Typhon. Among Echidna's progeny by the 100-headed Typhon, were Ladon (the dragon who protected the Golden Apples of the Hesperides), another dragon who protected the Golden Fleece, the Hydra, the goatlike Chimera, and the infernal hounds Orthus and Cerberus. The Sphinx and the Nemean lion, both sired by Orthus, were also among her offspring.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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