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Bald-faced hornet

See under hornet.
any large, stinging paper wasp of the family Vespidae, as Vespa crabro (giant hornet) introduced into the U.S. from Europe, or Vespula maculata (bald-faced hornet or white-faced hornet) of North America.
Historical Examples

There is no wild creature in the northern United States that a man will run away from so fast as from a bald-faced hornet.
Book of Monsters David Fairchild and Marian Hubbard (Bell) Fairchild

any of various large social wasps of the family Vespidae, esp Vespa crabro of Europe, that can inflict a severe sting
hornet’s nest, a strongly unfavourable reaction (often in the phrase stir up a hornet’s nest)

Old English hyrnet, hurnitu “large wasp, beetle,” probably from Proto-Germanic *hurz-nut- (cf. Old Saxon hornut, Middle Dutch huersel, Dutch horzel, Old High German hornaz, German Hornisse “hornet”), from PIE imitative (buzzing) root *krs-, as preserved in Old Church Slavonic srusa, Lithuanian szirszu “wasp.” On this theory, the English word (as well as German Hornisse) was altered by influence of horn, to suggest either “horner” (from the sting) or “horn-blower” (from the buzz). Cf. also Old Saxon hornobero “hornet,” literally “trumpeter.”

Heb. tsir’ah, “stinging”, (Ex. 23:28; Deut. 7:20; Josh. 24:12). The word is used in these passages as referring to some means by which the Canaanites were to be driven out from before the Israelites. Some have supposed that the word is used in a metaphorical sense as the symbol of some panic which would seize the people as a “terror of God” (Gen. 35:5), the consternation with which God would inspire the Canaanites. In Palestine there are four species of hornets, differing from our hornets, being larger in size, and they are very abundant. They “attack human beings in a very furious manner.” “The furious attack of a swarm of hornets drives cattle and horses to madness, and has even caused the death of the animals.”


mad as a hornet
stir up a hornet’s nest


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