AskDefine | Define hellhound

Dictionary Definition



1 a very evil man
2 (Greek mythology) 3-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades; son of Typhon [syn: Cerberus]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. A demonic dog of Hell, typically of unnaturally large size, strength or speed, black fur, glowing eyes, and ghostly or phantom characteristics.


Extensive Definition

A hellhound is a demonic dog of Hell, found in mythology, folklore and fiction. Hellhounds typically have features such as an unnaturally large size, a black fur color, glowing eyes, super strength or speed, ghostly or phantom characteristics, and sometimes even the ability to talk. They are often assigned to guard the entrance to the world of the dead or undertake other duties related to the afterlife or the supernatural, such as hunting down lost souls or guarding a supernatural treasure.

Examples from folklore

The most famous hellhound is probably Cerberus, the hound of Hades from Greek mythology. Hellhounds are also famous for appearing in Celtic mythology as part of the Wild Hunt. These hounds are given several different names in local folklore, but they display typical hellhound characteristics. The myth is common across Great Britain, and many names are given to the apparitions: Black Shuck of East Anglia (which has its roots in the Norse mythology rather than that of the Celts), Moddey Dhoo of the Isle of Man, Gwyllgi of Wales, and so on. See Barghest. The earliest mention of these myths are in both Walter Map's De Nugis Curialium (1190) and the Welsh myth cycle of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (ca. 10th-13th century)


Hellhounds are a common monstrous creature in fantasy fiction and horror fiction, though they sometimes appear in other genres such as detective novels.


  • The term is also common in African American blues music, such as in Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on my Trail".
hellhound in Korean: 헬 하운드
hellhound in Hungarian: A Sátán kutyája
hellhound in Japanese: ヘルハウンド
hellhound in Russian: Адская гончая
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