black widow


Definition of black widow

: a venomous New World spider (Latrodectus mactans of the family Theridiidae) the female of which is black with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the underside of the abdomen broadly : any of various related venomous spiders that have a large globular, usually glossy, dark abdomen often marked with red and long and wiry legs

Illustration of black widow

Illustration of black widow

Examples of black widow in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There are basically two spiders in this part of the country that can hurt ― brown recluse and black widow. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "How to identify the good and bad spiders in your house and garden," 2 June 2020 The black widow is not usually aggressive, the report said. Fox News, "Brothers allow black widow to sting them believing they'd turn into Spider-Man: report," 26 May 2020 Four Western black widows hunched, nearby, in small plastic boxes. The New Yorker, "at the epicenter of the pandemic.," 27 Apr. 2020 Some black widow bites cause trouble breathing and such severe pain that it can be mistaken for appendicitis or a heart attack. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "'Murder Hornets' are in the United States. These other dangerous bugs are more common," 4 May 2020 Everyone loves a black widow story, said author and journalist Katherine Ellison. Omar Abdel-baqui, Detroit Free Press, "Flint native Judith Barnett, guilty of murder, featured in new book, TV show," 30 Mar. 2020 Theridiidae spiders, such as black widows, create dimensional, irregular webs, also known as cobwebs. Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "How spider silk is one of the most versatile materials on Earth," 12 Sep. 2019 The black widow's bite releases venom that causes chest pain and muscle cramps, which can usually be remedied with anti-venom or muscle relaxant. Michelle Lou, CNN, "A deadly mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling in humans has been detected in Florida," 28 July 2019 As Knvul Sheikh reports for the New York Times, researchers from the University of Toronto have found that male black widows track down females by following silk trails left by rivals. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Male Black Widow Spiders Find Potential Mates by Following Other Suitors’ Trails," 2 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'black widow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of black widow

1830, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of black widow was in 1830

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Cite this Entry

“Black widow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for black widow

black widow


English Language Learners Definition of black widow

: a poisonous American spider

black widow


Kids Definition of black widow

: a poisonous spider the female of which is black with a red mark shaped like an hourglass on the underside of the abdomen

black widow

black wid·​ow | \ -ˈwid-ˌō How to pronounce black widow (audio) \

Medical Definition of black widow

: a venomous New World spider of the genus Latrodectus (L. mactans) the female of which is black with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the underside of the abdomen broadly : any other spider of the genus Latrodectus

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