ci·​ca·​da | \ sə-ˈkā-də How to pronounce cicada (audio) , -ˈkä- How to pronounce cicada (audio) , sī-ˈkā-\
plural cicadas also cicadae\ sə-​ˈkā-​(ˌ)dē How to pronounce cicadae (audio) , -​ˈkä-​ ; sī-​ˈkā-​ \

Definition of cicada

: any of a family (Cicadidae) of homopterous insects which have a stout body, wide blunt head, and large transparent wings and the males of which produce a loud buzzing noise usually by stridulation

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Members of a family of insects, cicadas have a stout body, wide blunt head, two pairs of transparent wings, prominent compound eyes, and three simple eyes. Most of the 1,500 known species are found in tropical deserts, grasslands, and forests. Males produce loud noises by vibrating membranes near the base of the abdomen. Most North. American cicadas produce rhythmical ticks, buzzes, or whines, though the "song" of some species is musical. Periodic cicadas, including the well-known 17-year cicada (often erroneously called the 17-year locust) and 13-year cicada appear in regular cycles. Their larvae burrow into the ground, where they remain for 13 or 17 years, feeding on juices sucked from roots. Then they emerge in large numbers to live aboveground as adults for a single week.

Examples of cicada in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Black stripes on the abdomen (as well as on our huge cicada killer wasps) look like the color is dripping. Ellen Nibali,, "Garden Q&A: On hornets that eat bark and replacing sick shade trees," 17 Oct. 2019 This is not to suggest that our planet is silent: The calls of some species of cicada can surpass 110 dB. Thunder claps at 120. Jennifer Emerling, National Geographic, "Seeking silence on a California road trip," 6 Aug. 2019 And there’s Massospora cicadina, which pumps its cicada hosts full of hallucinogenic drugs and causes part of their abdomens to fall off. Jennifer Lu, National Geographic, "How a parasitic fungus turns ants into 'zombies'," 18 Apr. 2019 An Arkansas photographer captured a venomous copperhead snake devouring a cicada that had just emerged from its shell at Ozark National Forest earlier this month. Fox News, "Venomous Arkansas snake devours bug in jaw-dropping photos," 29 July 2019 McDaniel says the copperhead became aware of his presence, finished swallowing the cicada and slithered off. Washington Post, "Gulp! Arkansas photographer snaps images of snake eating bug," 26 July 2019 The wasp paralyzes the cicada with a sting and takes it to a burrow. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Cicadas are buzzing. Does that mean Arizona's monsoon storms are coming?," 18 July 2019 Female cicada killer wasps fly around looking for cicadas. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Cicadas are buzzing. Does that mean Arizona's monsoon storms are coming?," 18 July 2019 The mornings in late spring and summer are long and bright, busy with birdsong and cicada buzz but light on traffic and train sounds. Sara Clarkson,, "Clarkson: A lot to hear and see on early morning summer walks," 16 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cicada.' 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 cicada

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cicada

New Latin, genus name, from Latin, cicada

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Time Traveler for cicada

Time Traveler

The first known use of cicada was in the 14th century

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Statistics for cicada

Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cicada.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for cicada


How to pronounce cicada (audio) How to pronounce cicada (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cicada

: a large insect


ci·​ca·​da | \ sə-ˈkā-də How to pronounce cicada (audio) \

Kids Definition of cicada

: an insect that has transparent wings and a stout body and the males of which make a loud buzzing noise

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More from Merriam-Webster on cicada

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cicada

Spanish Central: Translation of cicada

Nglish: Translation of cicada for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cicada

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