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1 also hellbinder: A large aquatic salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). Also called alligator n1 B1, devil dog 2, ground puppy, lizard 2, mud devil, mud puppy a, tweeg, water dog, water puppy1812 Barton A Memoir concerning an animal of the class of reptilia, or amphibia, which is known, in the United-States, by the names of Alligator and Hell-bender [title]. 1842 DeKay Zool. NY 3.89, The Allegany Hell-bender . . feeds on worms, crayfish, fishes, and aquatic reptiles. 1893 Leland Memoirs II.179 (DAE), That extraordinary fish lizard . . known as the hell-bender from its extreme ugliness. 1926 TX Folkl. Soc. Pub. 5.63, At Boiling Spring, Missouri, a negro fisherman very gravely told my friend . . that the animal is called “hellbender” because it is one of the creatures that inhabit the infernal regions. 1948 Sat. Eve. Post 4 Dec 10/2 SC, It was like a gigantic hellbender. 1968 DARE Tape NC55, [FW:] What are spring lizards? [Inf:] They’re a salamander that lives in a branch. . . They’re black and they get about six inches long—the biggest ones. [FW:] Is there a kind of big one . . ? [Inf:] Water dog or mud puppy? Yeah; its real name is hellbinder [ˈhɛlbaɪndɚ]. 1979 Behler–King Audubon Field Guide Reptiles 269, Hellbender. . . Range: Sw. New York to n. Alabama and Georgia. Separate populations in Missouri and in Susquehanna River (New York and Pennsylvania). 1988 DARE File cnOH 1920, We boy-scouts caught salamanders in the creeks near Akron and called them hellbenders. They were sluggish, black, as much as a foot long, and, though harmless, thought to be poisonous. Some called them mud-puppies.
2 Among loggers: see quot.1968 Adams Western Words 145, Hell bender—A logger’s term for a log.