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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).



hydra (plural hydras or hydrae or hydræ)

  1. 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.
  2. A complex, multifarious problem or situation that cannot be solved easily and rapidly.
    • 2009, Kris Frieswick, Till Death Do Us Pay:
      Because the statute is so vaguely worded, award decisions are habitually based on case law, the growing mountain of which is a hydra of rulings that point in so many directions that almost any decision can be defended or overturned on appeal, depending on how smart your lawyer is and which precedent he selects to argue your case.





From Ancient Greek ὕδρα (húdra).



hydra f (genitive hydrae); first declension (masculine hydrus)

  1. A water-snake.


First declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative hydra hydrae
genitive hydrae hydrārum
dative hydrae hydrīs
accusative hydram hydrās
ablative hydrā hydrīs
vocative hydra hydrae

Related terms[edit]


  • hydra in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • du Cange, Charles (1883), “hydra”, in G. A. Louis Henschel, Pierre Carpentier, Léopold Favre, editors, Glossarium Mediæ et Infimæ Latinitatis (in Latin), Niort: L. Favre
  • hydra in The Perseus Project (1999) Perseus Encyclopedia[1]
  • hydra in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • hydra in William Smith, editor (1854, 1857) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, volume 1 & 2, London: Walton and Maberly