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

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 Scientists decode the black widow spider’s language of love. Lesley Evans Ogden, Discover Magazine, "Sex on the Beach," 30 June 2019 But as the documentary makes clear, Carter wasn’t necessarily the black widow the prosecution made her out to be. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Why HBO’s 'I Love You, Now Die' Is In Two Parts, According to Erin Lee Carr," 12 June 2019 As Bustle points out, season 16 winner Courtney Robertson was dressed in black just weeks after fellow contestant Kacie B. called her a black widow. Hannah Orenstein, Seventeen, "13 Things You Never Knew About Getting Dressed on "The Bachelor"," 16 Jan. 2019 In late June, an Ohio man reported finding a lively black widow crawling on top of his broccoli. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Connecticut woman finds black widow spider in bag of grapes," 18 July 2018 The state is home to about 500 species of spiders, with three that can cause serious health problems for humans, once bitten: the hobo, yellow sac and black widow. Aimee Green,, "Manager of upscale Portland restaurant bitten by poisonous spider, $999,999 lawsuit says," 14 Mar. 2018 Brown recluse Similar to the black widow, brown recluse spiders also have a distinct marking. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Brown recluse, black widow and other dangerous spiders found in the US," 10 July 2018

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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Last Updated

25 Aug 2019

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The first known use of black widow was in 1830

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on black widow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with black widow Encyclopedia article about black widow

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