deathwatch

1 of 2

noun (1)

death·​watch ˈdeth-ˌwäch How to pronounce deathwatch (audio)
: a small insect that makes a ticking sound
especially : deathwatch beetle

deathwatch

2 of 2

noun (2)

1
: a vigil kept over the dead or dying
2
: the guard set over a criminal to be executed

Examples of deathwatch in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Listing image by Warner Bros. Enlarge Getty Images The EV charging plug deathwatch might need to be kicked into a higher gear. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 29 June 2023 Enlarge Getty Images The EV charging plug deathwatch might need to be kicked into a higher gear. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 29 June 2023 Many other ecosystems are simply dying in place—von Brackel describes the sad plight of Terry Hughes, the Australian coral scientist whose career has become an extended deathwatch as the Great Barrier Reef, the earth’s largest living structure, repeatedly bleaches. Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books, 21 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deathwatch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

death + watch (timepiece); from the superstition that its ticking presages death

Noun (2)

death + watch (vigil)

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1646, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

circa 1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deathwatch was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near deathwatch

Cite this Entry

“Deathwatch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deathwatch. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

deathwatch

1 of 2 noun
death·​watch ˈdeth-ˌwäch How to pronounce deathwatch (audio)
: a small insect (as a beetle) that makes a ticking sound

deathwatch

2 of 2 noun
: a watch kept over the dead or dying
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