beetle

1 of 5

noun (1)

bee·​tle ˈbē-tᵊl How to pronounce beetle (audio)
1
: any of an order (Coleoptera) of insects having four wings of which the outer pair are modified into stiff elytra that protect the inner pair when at rest
2
: any of various insects resembling a beetle

beetle

2 of 5

verb (1)

beetled; beetling ˈbē-tᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce beetle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to scurry like a beetle
editors beetled around the office

beetle

3 of 5

noun (2)

1
: a heavy wooden hammering or ramming instrument
2
: a wooden pestle or bat for domestic tasks

beetle

4 of 5

adjective

: being prominent and overhanging
beetle brows

beetle

5 of 5

verb (2)

beetled; beetling ˈbē-tᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce beetle (audio)

intransitive verb

: project, jut
to scale the beetling cragsR. L. Stevenson

Examples of beetle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Their diet includes beetles, hoppers and yes, crickets. Kris Millgate, Field & Stream, 11 Apr. 2024 Still, among plant-eating beetles—which make up roughly a quarter of all beetle species—a clear pattern is emerging. Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Apr. 2024 Pine beetle infestations have increased significantly as the climate has changed. Adam Elmahrek, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2024 Overcrowded by decades of fire suppression, dried out by drought and weakened by beetle infestations, forests now burn rapidly and so intensely that their natural ability to regenerate is vastly diminished. Lydia Depillis, New York Times, 4 Apr. 2024 This head shape suggests the animal ate grubs -- which are the larval form of certain beetle species -- and other small insects, similar to frogs and salamanders. Mary Kekatos, ABC News, 22 Mar. 2024 Unfortunately, the beetles are considered strong fliers. Barbara Henry, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2024 This is damage caused by a small beetle called a black twig borer. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 22 Mar. 2024 The birds also have struggled in Arizona as riparian areas have dried up and, more recently, after the release of a beetle that has destroyed habitat. Hayleigh Evans, The Arizona Republic, 1 Mar. 2024
Adjective
So the annual allowable cut was reduced below pre-beetle-kill levels in 2015. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 19 Jan. 2022
Verb
Black-and-yellow taxis beetled along Apollo Bunder, the road in front of the hotel. Flora Stubbs, Travel + Leisure, 28 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beetle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English betylle, from Old English bitula; akin to bītan to bite

Noun (2)

Middle English betel, from Old English bīetel; akin to Old English bēatan to beat

Adjective

Middle English bitel-browed having overhanging brows, probably from betylle, bitel beetle

Verb (2)

verbal derivative of beetle entry 4

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

circa 1919, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1602, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of beetle was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near beetle

Cite this Entry

“Beetle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beetle. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

beetle

1 of 3 noun
bee·​tle ˈbēt-ᵊl How to pronounce beetle (audio)
1
: any of an order of insects having four wings of which the first pair are stiff cases that fold over and protect the second pair when at rest
2
: any of various insects resembling a beetle

beetle

2 of 3 adjective
: sticking out and hanging over
beetle brows

beetle

3 of 3 verb
beetled; beetling
ˈbēt-(ə-)liŋ
: to stick out or hang over
beetling cliffs
Etymology

Noun

Old English bitula "beetle," from the root of bītan "to bite" — related to bite

Adjective

Middle English bitel-browed "having overhanging brows," probably from bitel, betylle "beetle," from Old English bitula "beetle"

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