noun \-ˌwərm\

Definition of SHIPWORM

:  any of various marine clams (especially family Teredinidae) that have a shell used for burrowing in submerged wood and a wormlike body and that cause damage to wharf piles and wooden ships

First Known Use of SHIPWORM

circa 1778


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any of approximately 65 species (family Teredidae) of common marine bivalves that can severely damage wooden structures, including ship hulls and wharves. Its anterior end is covered by a shell; the rest is a tubelike structure, sometimes up to 6 ft (1.8 m) long. File-like ridges on its white shell cut into wood at 8–12 rasping motions a minute. It secretes lime to line its burrow, and its tubelike portion extends back to the burrow opening. It ingests food particles and oxygen from the water; some wood is also ingested as food.

Variants of SHIPWORM

shipworm or pileworm


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