deathwatch

noun (1)
death·​watch | \ ˈdeth-ˌwäch How to pronounce deathwatch (audio) \

Definition of deathwatch

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small insect that makes a ticking sound especially : deathwatch beetle

deathwatch

noun (2)

Definition of deathwatch (Entry 2 of 2)

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

First Known Use of deathwatch

Noun (1)

1646, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

circa 1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deathwatch

Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

death + watch (vigil)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about deathwatch

Statistics for deathwatch

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deathwatch

The first known use of deathwatch was in 1646

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on deathwatch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deathwatch

Comments on deathwatch

What made you want to look up deathwatch? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!