Definition of caterpillar
: the elongated wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth; also : any of various similar larvae
Recent Examples of caterpillar from the Web
An installation by Alena Kogan exploited a gaping hole between two floors: an angular white cocoon dipped from one level down into the next, as if a huge caterpillar had taken up residence in the industrial ruins.
To control the tomato fruitworm caterpillars that are doing the damage, spray regularly with BT (Dipel, Thuricide and other brands) or spinosad (various brands).
The only plant this moth’s caterpillar offspring will chow down on is oleander, hence its other common name, the oleander moth.
The guests separated into two lines, men and women, and shuffled forward to be swiped at delicately so the caterpillars crawling across backs and shoulders, pants legs and skirts, fell into the metal tray.
The latter is found at independent garden centers as an insecticide for caterpillar control under the Fertilome and Southern Ag labels.
Many caterpillars are falling victim to a lethal fungus.
Talstar (bifenthrin) is very effective in killing the caterpillars (not the moths).
To entertain the sound blackout, the two rappers broke out into a spontaneous dance battle, with a surprisingly agile Killer Mike only being outdone by El-P’s impressive caterpillar.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caterpillar'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of caterpillar
Middle English catyrpel, from Anglo-French *catepelose, literally, hairy cat
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
Definition of Caterpillar
—used for a tractor made for use on rough or soft ground and moved on two endless metal belts
CATERPILLAR Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of caterpillar for English Language Learners
: a small creature that is like a worm with many legs and that changes to become a butterfly or moth
CATERPILLAR Defined for Kids
Definition of caterpillar for Students
: the wormlike larva of an insect and usually a butterfly or moth
History for caterpillar
Our common word for a butterfly or moth larva first appeared in the 1400s as catirpel. It is almost certainly borrowed from a medieval French word which we know only in modern French dialects as catepeleuse, literally, “hairy cat.” Similar applications of a name for a furry animal to fuzzy larvae are English woolly bear and French chenille, “caterpillar,” descended from Latin canicula, “little dog.”
Seen and Heard
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