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

Calm and serene / the sound of a cicada / penetrates the rock. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Taking to the Sky," 25 Jan. 2019 Some have compared the taste of a cicada to popcorn, bacon, even crab. New York Times, "A Story of Survival Revived by the Cicadas’ Loud (and Crunchy) Return," 22 June 2018 These insect parents resemble tiny cicadas, with transparent wings held over their bodies as mini-roofs. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Cool, rainy spring prompts alert for fire blight on Valley trees, plants | Idaho Statesman," 26 Apr. 2018 The nature of his wound was the clock-cicada winding down. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Lucie Brock-Broido, Inventive Poet, Is Dead at 61," 10 Mar. 2018 The first sound is a cicada’s piercing shrill, which violently cuts out mid-chirp. Carlos Valladares, San Francisco Chronicle, "Argentine director Lucrecia Martel to attend Berkeley retrospective of her work," 16 Apr. 2018 There are those who drift off by instructing their Amazon Alexa or Google Home to play recordings of babbling brooks and cicadas. Stephanie Rosenbloom, New York Times, "Tools for Sleeping Well While Traveling," 30 Mar. 2018 The cacophony of Shahid’s cries and the cicada drone almost felled me. Sorayya Khan, Longreads, "The Cities in Me," 8 Feb. 2018 And understandably so: To their many detractors, redistricting consultants surface every 10 years, cicada-like, to ravage the landscape of minority parties in state legislatures and Congress. Michael Wines, New York Times, "Just How Bad Is Partisan Gerrymandering? Ask the Mapmakers," 29 Jan. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near cicada





cicada bird

cicada killer


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Time Traveler for cicada

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

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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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