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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Houyhnhnm \Hou*yhnhnm"\, n. One of the race of horses described by Swift in his imaginary travels of Lemuel Gulliver. The Houyhnhnms were endowed with reason and noble qualities; subject to them were Yahoos, a race of brutes having the form and all the worst vices of men.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1727, in "Gulliver's Travels," coined by Swift to suggest whinnying.


Houyhnhnms are a race of intelligent horses described in the last part of Jonathan Swift's satirical Gulliver's Travels. The name is pronounced either or . (Swift apparently intended all words of the Houyhnhnm language to echo the neighing of horses.)

Usage examples of "houyhnhnm".

From the present limited perspective of Houyhnhnm nationhood, the major question is what the Houyhnhnm utopia implies about the nature of nations.

His identity as a reasonable, cleanly user of language blurs the boundary between Houyhnhnm and Yahoo on which Houyhnhnm culture depends.

Squire says you know a good deal about horses, so I suppose you understand the Houyhnhnm language?

The rulers of Houyhnhnmland, in contrast, are the Houyhnhnm, a refined, sensitive, and deeply ethical people who just happen to be horses.

But the Houyhnhnms have a significant and inimical Other, in this case an internal one.

The Yahoos, regarded as a distinct species, humanoid rather than equine, represent the irrational bestiality that the Houyhnhnms reject.

Although Houyhnhnms are and remain much better than European Yahoos, they are not immune to change, and that change takes place through their encounter with Gulliver.

Before the arrival of Gulliver, the Houyhnhnms, ideal but also funny, arrogant, and naive, were prelapsarian.

Such corporate action would be worthy if, as in the case of the Brobdingnags and Houyhnhnms, it were undertaken in the interestsofthe common good.

There was precedent for what was happening to us, too, for I recalled that on the only occasion that Lemuel Gulliver permits himself to go skinny-dipping in the land of the Houyhnhnms, a female Yahoo throws herself lustfully into the water after him.

For this refuge he was making, and from this our mutinous Houyhnhnms meant to keep us.

Theseus and the Minotaur, Perseus and the Gorgon, King Midas and his golden touch, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the labors of Hercules, Bellerophon and the Chimaera, Alice through the Looking-Glass, Jack and the beanstalk, Aladdin and the magic lamp, the Fisherman and the Genie, Gulliver among the Lilliputians and the Houyhnhnms, the adventures of Odin and Thor, the battle between Osiris and Set, the wanderings of Odysseus, the voyage of Captain Nemo--there was no end of it, and Timmie devoured it all.

But, if these censurers were better acquainted with the noble and courteous disposition of the HOUYHNHNMS, they would soon change their opinion.

But if these censurers were better acquainted with the noble and courteous disposition of the Houyhnhnms, they would soon change their opinion.

For in such a solitude as I desired, I could at least enjoy my own thoughts, and reflect with delight on the virtues of those inimitable HOUYHNHNMS, without an opportunity of degenerating into the vices and corruptions of my own species.