caterpillar

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noun, often attributive cat·er·pil·lar \ˈka-tə(r)-ˌpi-lər\

Definition of caterpillar

  1. :  the elongated wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth; also :  any of various similar larvae

Origin and Etymology of caterpillar

Middle English catyrpel, from Anglo-French *catepelose, literally, hairy cat


First Known Use: 15th century


Caterpillar

trademark cat·er·pil·lar

Definition of Caterpillar

  1. —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

caterpillar

play
noun, often attributive cat·er·pil·lar \ˈka-tə(r)-ˌpi-lər\

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

caterpillar

play
noun cat·er·pil·lar \ˈka-tər-ˌpi-lər, ˈka-tə-ˌpi-\

Definition of caterpillar for Students

  1. :  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.”



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