plural noun

: a family of mites (order Acarina) comprising the snout mites that feed on insects and on other mites

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, from Bdella, a mite genus (borrowed from Greek bdélla "leech," probably going back to a pre-Greek substratum language) + -idae -idae

Note: The family was initially characterized as Bdellei by the French obstetrician and naturalist Antoine Louis Dugès (1797-1838) in "Recherches sur l'ordre des Acariens en général et la famille des Trombidiés en particulière," Annales des Sciences Naturelles, 2. série, tome premier (Zoologie) (1834), p. 21. Perhaps independently it was defined as Bdellides (in the vernacular, Schnabelmilben, "snout mites") by the German arachnologist Carl Ludwig Koch (1778-1857) in Uebersicht des Arachnidensystems, 3. Heft, 1. Abteilung (Nürnberg, 1842), p. 73. The taxonomically more orthodox name Bdellidae is used by Koch and G.C. Berendt in Die im Bernstein befindlichen Crustaceen, Myriapoden, Arachniden und Apteren der Vorwelt (Berlin, 1854), p. 108. The genus Bdella was introduced by the French entomologist Pierre André Latreille (1762-1833) in "Observations sur la variété des organes de la bouche des Tiques, et distribution méthodique des insectes de cette famille d'après les caractères établis sur a la conformation de ces organes," Magasin Encyclopédique, ou Journal des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts, tome 4. (1795), p. 18. Pierre Chantraine (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque) regarded bdélla and bdállein "to milk (cows, etc.)" as untraceable expressive words ("termes expressifs … sans étymologie"), though more recently Robert Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Leiden, 2010) treats the group as likely substratal words.

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Cite this Entry

“Bdellidae.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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