1. Also called prairie wolf. a buffy-gray, wolflike canid, Canis latrans, of North America, distinguished from the wolf by its relatively small size and its slender build, large ears, and narrow muzzle.2. Slang. a contemptible person, esp. an avaricious or dishonest one.3. Amer. Ind. Legend. the coyote regarded as a culture hero and trickster by American Indian tribes of the West.4. Slang. a person who smuggles Mexican nationals across the border into the U.S. for a fee.[1825-35; earlier cuiota, cayota < MexSp coyote < Nahuatl coyotl]
* * *Species (Canis latrans) of canine found in North and Central America.Its range extends from Alaska and Canada south through the continental U.S. and Mexico to Central America. It weighs about 20–50 lbs (9–23 kg) and is about 3–4 ft (1–1.3 m) long, including its 12–16-in. (30–40-cm) tail. Its coarse fur is generally buff above and whitish below; its legs are reddish, and its tail is bushy and black-tipped. The coyote feeds mainly on small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and hares but can also take down deer, sometimes doing so in packs. Vegetation and carrion are commonly eaten as well. Though persecuted by humans because of its potential (generally overstated) to prey on domestic or game animals, it has adapted well to human-dominated environments, including urban areas. A coyote-dog cross is called a coydog.
* * *in the mythology and folklore of the North American Plains (Plains Indian), California (California Indian), and Southwest Indians (Southwest Indian), the chief animal of the age before humans. Coyote's exploits as a creator, lover, magician, glutton, and trickster are celebrated in a vast number of oral tales (see trickster tale). He was typically portrayed as a demiurge (independent creative force), as a maker of fateful decisions, as the being who secured for humans such necessities as fire and daylight, and as the originator of human arts. In all cases, his transgression of normative social boundaries frequently resulted in social or physical chaos, a situation resolved in each folktale's conclusion.Among the hundreds of tales in the Coyote cycles are a series in which Skunk and Coyote demonstrate their extraordinary incompetence as hunters; another in which Coyote tricks Porcupine out of a portion of buffalo meat, incurring Porcupine's revenge; an incident in which Coyote is tricked into dumping his grandmother's acorns into a river; and a tale of his transformation into a platter in order to be heaped with food to satisfy his voracious appetite.For Northwest Coast Indians (Northwest Coast Indian), Coyote's analog was Raven (Raven cycle). Among Northeast (Northeast Indian) and Southeast Indians (Southeast Indian), Coyote was paralleled by the Great Hare, or Master Rabbit, whose adventures became a supplementary source for the Brer Rabbit folktales of Southern African Americans.
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