More fully "hister beetle". Any beetle of the genus Hister or (in later use) the family Histeridae, typically having an oval, hard, shiny black body (sometimes with red or orange markings) and clubbed, geniculate antennae, and most commonly living in decaying animal and plant material and dung. Also (in form Hister): the genus itself.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in John Berkenhout (?1730–1791), physician and writer. From scientific Latin Hister, genus name (LinnaeusSystema naturae (ed 10, 1758) I. 358) from classical Latin hister actor.