Open main menu



From Old English Hūne, Hūnas, from Late Latin Hunnus, from Koine Greek Χοῦνοι (Khoûnoi) or Χουνοί (Khounoí),[1] borrowed through Middle Iranian, apparently ultimately from Turkic *Hun-yü, the name of a tribe (they were known in China as Xiongnu).[2]

As a derogatory term for Germans popularized by Rudyard Kipling,[3] reacting to Germany's proposal that the Royal Navy be used to collect debts from Venezuela. “The Hun” refers to Emperor Wilhelm II's controversial Hun speech (1900).[4]


  • IPA(key): /hʌn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌn


Hun (plural Huns)

  1. A member of a nomadic tribe, the Huns, most likely of Turkic origin, which invaded Europe in the fourth century from Central Asia. There are also theories of Mongolic, Iranian, Yeniseian origins, while some scientists claim they are a separate group.
  2. (figuratively) A vandal, a barbarian, an uncivilized destructive person.
  3. (slang, derogatory, Britain, Australia) A German.
    Synonyms: Fritz, Jerry, Kraut
  4. (slang, derogatory, Britain, Ireland) A Protestant.
    Synonyms: Prod, Proddy, orangie, Orangeman

Related termsEdit


Further readingEdit


  1. ^ Hun”, in OED Online  , Oxford: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  2. ^ Hun” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
  3. ^ Rudyard Kipling (1902), “The Rowers”, in The years between (in English), Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, published 1919: “‘In sight of peace—from the Narrow Seas / O'er half the world to run— / With a cheated crew, to league anew / With the Goth and the shameless Hun!’”
  4. ^ Wilhelm II (1900-07-27) Hunnenrede [Hun Speech] (in German), Bremerhaven:
    Wie vor tausend Jahren die Hunnen unter ihrem König Etzel sich einen Namen gemacht, der sie noch jetzt in der Überlieferung gewaltig erscheinen läßt, so möge der Name Deutschland in China in einer solchen Weise bekannt werden, daß niemals wieder ein Chinese es wagt, etwa einen Deutschen auch nur schiel anzusehen.
    Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under Attila won a reputation of might that lives on in legends, so may the name of Germany in China, such that no Chinese will even again dare so much as to look askance at a German.





Hun m (plural Hunnen, diminutive Hunnetje n)

  1. A Hun, member of the nomadic tribe
  2. (figuratively) A barbarian, brute