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hydra (HIGH-druh) 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.

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


1. The many-headed monster that was slain by Hercules.

2. A constellation in the equatorial region of the southern sky near Cancer, Libra, and Centaurus. Also called Snake.

3. A persistent or multifaceted problem that cannot be eradicated by a single effort.

[Middle English Idra, from Latin Hydra, from Greek Hudra, Hydra, a water serpent.]

"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has smitten several of the heads springing from the political Hydra seemingly out to get him." Sarah Honig, Fighting a many-headed serpent, Jerusalem Post, 31 Dec 1997.

When you call your good-humored friend jovial, do you know you are comparing him to Jupiter, the principal god in classical mythology? Also known by the names Jove and Zeus, he is considered the source of joy and happiness. That's the reason astrologers proclaim jolliness, conviviality, and sociability as attributes of those born under the planet Jupiter. The mythology of the Greeks and Romans is the source of scores of metaphors in the English language. This week's AWAD features seven of them. -Anu


The community as a whole doesn't listen patiently to critics who adopt alternative viewpoints. Although the great lesson of history is that knowledge develops through the conflict of viewpoints. -Walter Gilbert

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