black widow

noun

: 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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web So Sergi and his adviser, spider cognition expert Rafa Rodríguez, decided to put black widow memory to the test. Max G. Levy, Ars Technica, 1 Nov. 2022 Just one bite can land victims in the hospital, whether from the black widow's (sometimes) spasm-inducing neurotoxins or the brown recluse's poisonous venom, which can cause skin tissue to die. Monica Cull, Discover Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 There were all sorts of Maximal characters like Tigatron (tiger), Rattrap (rat), and Blackarachnia (black widow spider), and Predacons like Scorponok (scorpion), Tarantulas (tarantula), and Waspinator (wasp). Nick Romano, EW.com, 1 Dec. 2022 So Sergi and his adviser, spider cognition expert Rafa Rodríguez, decided to put black widow memory to the test. Max G. Levy, Ars Technica, 1 Nov. 2022 So Sergi and his adviser, spider cognition expert Rafa Rodríguez, decided to put black widow memory to the test. WIRED, 31 Oct. 2022 The black widow spider is found in Eastern Washington, as is the yellow sac spider (which is also spotted around Seattle). Erin Middlewood | The Columbian, oregonlive, 30 Oct. 2022 Woman dubbed ‘black widow’ dies in California prison. Los Angeles Times, 4 Oct. 2022 But if you’re bitten by a venomous spider—like a black widow or a brown recluse, both of which can cause necrotizing wounds—your rash will be difficult to ignore and may even warrant a trip to the ER. Kirsten Nunez, SELF, 23 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1830, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of black widow was in 1830

Dictionary Entries Near black widow

Cite this Entry

“Black widow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/black%20widow. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

black widow

noun
: a poisonous New World spider the female of which is black with an hourglass-shaped red mark on the underside of the abdomen

Medical Definition

black widow

noun
black wid·​ow -ˈwid-ˌō How to pronounce black widow (audio)
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on black widow

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