earwig

noun
ear·​wig | \ ˈir-ˌwig How to pronounce earwig (audio) \

Definition of earwig

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of numerous insects (order Dermaptera) having slender many-jointed antennae and a pair of cerci resembling forceps at the end of the body

earwig

verb
earwigged; earwigging

Definition of earwig (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to annoy or attempt to influence by private talk

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Did You Know?

Verb

Earwigs are small insects that were once thought to crawl into the ears of sleeping people. This isn't true - earwigs prefer moist, dark places under leaves and rocks to human ears - but the superstition led people to name the insect ēarwicga, Old English for "ear insect." Over time, people connected the idea of having an insect in one's ear to situations that involve whispering or speaking privately into someone's ear. The noun earwig came to also mean "a whispering busybody" (though this sense is now considered archaic), and the verb earwig evolved to refer to the acts of such meddlers. In British English, the word is more commonly used to mean "eavesdrop," as in "earwigged on their conversation at the party."

Examples of earwig in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Earwigs, especially babies (look like a mini earwig) can get to some of the top roots. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Neighbor’s spraying could affect growth, yield of raspberries," 10 May 2020 For me, the quickest and easiest way was to record the lines, put in an earwig (a near-invisible wireless speaker) and act in the scene imagining myself there. John Wenzel, The Know, "Paul Rudd on seeing double in his jarring, brilliant new Netflix series “Living With Yourself”," 24 Oct. 2019 The earwigs should fall onto the cloth and can then be disposed of. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Control Earwigs in Your Garden and Keep Them From Getting in Your House," 27 July 2018 The downside is that earwigs are in heaven, enjoying the mulch cover. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Consider all insect control measures carefully as earwigs, squash bugs move in," 22 June 2018 Other kids were debating whether an insect was a centipede, an earwig, or some other sort of beetle. Conor Williams, The Atlantic, "The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy," 26 Apr. 2018 In my experience, by the time the corn is ripe there are no visible silks because earwigs have eaten them. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Double-duty: Grow corn to support bean stalks too | Idaho Statesman," 28 Mar. 2018 Pollination occurred before the earwigs had their way. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Double-duty: Grow corn to support bean stalks too | Idaho Statesman," 28 Mar. 2018 Potential pests include snails, slugs, earwigs, aphids, leafminers, thrips and whiteflies. Debbie Arrington, sacbee, "Growing iceberg lettuce takes time and cool weather," 28 July 2017

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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1804, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for earwig

Noun

Middle English erwigge, from Old English ēarwicga, from ēare ear + wicga insect

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Time Traveler for earwig

Time Traveler

The first known use of earwig was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Earwig.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earwig. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for earwig

earwig

noun
How to pronounce earwig (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of earwig

: an insect that has long, thin feelers and two curved, pointed parts at the end of the body

earwig

noun
ear·​wig | \ ˈir-ˌwig How to pronounce earwig (audio) \

Kids Definition of earwig

: an insect with long slender feelers and a part at the end of its body that pinches and is used for self-defense

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More from Merriam-Webster on earwig

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with earwig

Spanish Central: Translation of earwig

Nglish: Translation of earwig for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about earwig

Comments on earwig

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