The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Hornet \Hor"net\, n. [AS. hyrnet; akin to OHG. hornaz, hornuz,
G. horniss; perh. akin to E. horn, and named from the sound
it makes as if blowing the horn; but more prob. akin to D.
horzel, Lith. szirszone, L. crabo.] (Zool.)
A large, strong wasp. The European species (Vespa crabro)
is of a dark brown and yellow color. It is very pugnacious,
and its sting is very severe. Its nest is constructed of a
paperlike material, and the layers of comb are hung together
by columns. The American white-faced hornet (Vespa
maculata) is larger and has similar habits.
Hornet fly (Zool.), any dipterous insect of the genus
Asilus, and allied genera, of which there are numerous
species. They are large and fierce flies which capture
bees and other insects, often larger than themselves, and
suck their blood. Called also hawk fly, robber fly.
To stir up a hornet's nest, to provoke the attack of a
swarm of spiteful enemies or spirited critics. [Colloq.]
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: large stinging paper wasp
Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary:
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."