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The Meaning of "Yautja": Predator Species Names Explained

By | Published August 23, 2023

While the movies just call them Hunters, the Predators are often named the Yautja or the Hish-Qu-Ten (Hish) in the expanded lore of books and comics. In this article, we explore what is the meaning behind these terms and from which source material they originated from. In addition to naming their own species, the Predators have special names for rival species as well.

Origins Of "Yautja"

The cover of AvP: Prey, where the meaning of Yautja originates from

The term "Yautja" is often used to mean the same thing as the Predator species, but it might confuse people who are new to the series. This word was first created in a book called Aliens vs. Predator: Prey, which was written by S. D. Perry and Steve Perry. This book is based on the first Aliens vs. Predator comic series. "Yautja" is the word that the Predators use to refer to themselves. The book followed the events of the comic closely, but it also added more information, including descriptions of the Predator race and culture. After that, the word "Yautja" started to be used in many Predator books and on several Predator websites, but usually not in games or comic books. The newest Predator movie, called Prey, has the same name as this book. But, like the other Predator movies, it doesn't use the word "Yautja."

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How To Pronounce "Yautja"

The cover of AvP: Hunters Planet, another book to use the term Yautja

The pronunciation of "Yautja" has long sparked debate among fans, stemming from individual interpretations and linguistic nuances. When encountering this unfamiliar word, people pronounce it differently, with variations like "Yaw-ja," "yawt-jah," or even "Yaw-tah." An official pronunciation, "Ya-oot-chah," suggested by author Steve C. Perry, complicates the discussion. Some sources, like the Soldiers Inc. Facebook game event game, adopted this pronunciation, highlighting the evolving nature of language and its adaptability to different contexts. Of course, the Yautja themselves would not use this pronunciation, using the mandibles and roaring to say their species' name instead.

Hish and the First Yautja

The Alpha Predator, a Hish who became the first Yautja

The Predators are also sometimes called the "Hish-Qu-Ten" or just the "Hish". This is the ancient name of the Predator species that is tied to their origin, before they evolved into the Yautja. The Predators were a tribal warrior species who were enslaved by the insectoid and technologically advanced Amengi race. An albino Alpha Predator (named Kaiil) emerged amongst the Predators are led a successful rebellion against the Amengi. The Amengi were enslaved instead and their technology was stolen, providing the Yautja with the means to explore the galaxy. The Hish-Qu-Ten name translates in their own language to "The People Who Take Territory".

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Predator: Forever Midnight, where the term Hish-Qu-Ten originates from

A strand of the Hish-Qu-Ten still exists and is considered to be a dishonored offshoot of the Yautja. Appearing in the much-hated book Predator: Forever Midnight, they are less honorable than the Yautja and are known to hunt women and children. The Hish-Qu-Ten like to soften up their prey with various tricks, like mind-controlled sleeper agents, airstrikes from ships, robotic drones and remote-controlled children. When it is time to actually hunt, they attack with overwhelming force that leaves little room for a fair fight for their prey. Like regular Yautja, they live for the hunt and are interested in taking trophies from different species. They are offended by humans making technological advances as they consider them to be an unimportant race.

Predator vs. Hunter

The Fugitive Predator in the Stargazer laboratory in The Predator

In the Predator and Alien vs. Predator movies, the Yautja are usually called Hunters, without any specific species names given. The original Predator movie script by the Thomas brothers was also called Hunter, but 20th Century Fox went with the Predator name instead. The only movie to refer to them as Predators is The Predator, where it is done in a humorous way. Supposedly, the Stargazer laboratory had a vote to call the creatures Predators, although the Yautja don't really prey on their victims like a real-life Predator would. The scientist Casey Bracket correctly points out that a more fitting name for the creature would be a Sports Hunter.

Predator Names For Other Species

A captured Alien Queen alongside a Predator and a human

In their own Predator language, the Yautja have names and nicknames for other species as well, including humans and Xenomorphs. The humans are called "pyode amedha", which translates to "soft meat" due to their vulnerability. However, the Xenomorphs are named "kiande amedha", which is "hard meat", and considered to be more worthy prey. In the stories from the POV of Predators, the humans are also jokingly called "oomans", while often observed to act foolishly.


While often used as a synonym for the Predator species, "Yautja" might puzzle newcomers to the series. Its origin lies in the Aliens vs. Predator: Prey novel, penned by S. D. Perry and Steve Perry, which offers deeper insights into Predator culture and their historical timeline. "Hish-Qu-Ten" or "Hish" is another common name for the Predator species, but it indicates either the ancestors of the Yautja, or a weird offshoot of the species. These names signify the evolution of the Predators' identity and their interactions with rival species.

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