wolf, noun1

Origin:
EnglishShow more Transferred sense of general English.
historical
Any of several mammals bearing some resemblance to the wolf of the northern hemisphere, particularly the southern African hyaenas (but in some contexts, probably the aardwolf or the wild dog). See also aardwolf, strandwolf, tiger-wolf.
[1596 T. Johnson Cornucopiae B4A certaine Wolfe called Hyena.]
1655 E. Terry Voy. to E.-India (1777) 15This remotest part of Africa is very mountainous, over-run with wild beasts, as lions, tigers, wolves, and many other beasts of prey.
1731 G. Medley tr. of P. Kolben’s Present State of Cape of G.H. II. 107There are two Sorts of Wolves in the Cape-Countries; one agreeing in every particular with the Wolves in Europe; the other are very different, and are call’d Tiger-Wolves.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 163These wolves are to be found almost every dark night about the shambles at the Cape where they devour the offals of bones, skin, &c.
1804 R. Percival Acct of Cape of G.H. 76Tigers hyenas wolves and jackals infest the neighbouring hills, and frequently come down at night to devour the cattle.
1812 A. Plumptre tr. of H. Lichtenstein’s Trav. in Sn Afr. (1928) II. 15The spotted hyena, hyæna crocuta, is here called simply the wolf.
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 277During the night the hyenas, or wolves as they are usually called by the Boors and Hottentots, had devoured the flesh.
1836 N. Isaacs Trav. (1937) II.We were greatly concerned about our horses..and..feared that they might become a repast for the wolves, hyenas, panthers, leopards and other beasts which are extremely numerous through the whole of this part of the country.
1852 C. Barter Dorp & Veld 117 (Pettman)As I have used the term wolf so frequently, it is right I should inform the reader that the animal properly so called does not exist in South Africa.
1881 P. Gillmore Land of Boer 195The wolves (hyenas) were destroying their cattle wholesale.
1926 P.W. Laidler Tavern of Ocean 97Trap guns were commonly used for the destruction of..wolves, leopards and lions, of which only the former two were now found around the Cape.
1969 F.G. Butler When Boys Were Men 24Wolves: probably spotted or laughing hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Usually scavengers, they are seldom known to have attacked healthy wild animals, but sometimes domestic animals. Alternatively the ‘wolves’ might be Cape hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus), which frequently attacked animals much larger than themselves, tearing strips out of them on the run.
1975 W. Steenkamp Land of Thirst King 164The first Dutch settlers tacked the name ‘wolf’ to the various hyaenas they encountered.
Any of several mammals bearing some resemblance to the wolf of the northern hemisphere, particularly the southern African hyaenas (but in some contexts, probably the aardwolf or the wild dog).
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