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 cicada (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 Last Night on Late Night President Biden was attacked by a cicada at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for Europe on Wednesday. Peter Weber, The Week, 10 June 2021 The loudest to have ever been recorded was the African cicada, which registered at almost 107 decibels, about as loud as a chainsaw. Timothy Fanning, San Antonio Express-News, 4 Oct. 2021 One depicts a bathroom where a Smurf doll is alarmed by an overflowing sink and the other an artist’s studio, complete with a portrait of a cicada. Washington Post, 26 Sep. 2021 In Cincinnati, a cicada flew into a car and hit the driver in the face, causing the driver to swerve and hit a pole, per People. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 June 2021 The cicada flew through an open car window, striking the driver in the face, causing a single-car crash in the 2600 block of Riverside Drive in the city's East End neighborhood, police said in a Twitter post. Chris Mayhew, The Enquirer, 8 June 2021 However, the cicada-sized insects are currently found in nine other states: Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 4 Oct. 2021 In even rarer cases, dogs have died from eating too many cicada shells. London Gibson, USA TODAY, 10 June 2021 At least that's what a member of the tasting panel for Dayton's The Pizza Bandit had to say about the eatery's recent cicada-pizza experiment. Sarah Michels, The Enquirer, 14 June 2021

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

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Dictionary Entries Near cicada



cicada bird

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Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cicada.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for cicada



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

More from Merriam-Webster on cicada

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


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