Definition of earwig
: any of numerous insects (order Dermaptera) having slender many-jointed antennae and a pair of cerci resembling forceps at the end of the body
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Recent Examples of earwig from the Web
But this is nesting season and the little white birdhouse at the garden’s edge was also buzzing with activity as tiny house wrens shuttled delicious morsels such as earwigs, small worms and nondescript spiders to the hungry chicks inside.
These thick, hardy earwigs, called Arixenia esau, were so strongly attached to the rock that the scientists had to pry them off with forceps.
Hitching a ride on an earwig makes even more sense when considering the challenges bat fleas face.
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.
Origin and Etymology of earwig
Middle English erwigge, from Old English ēarwicga, from ēare ear + wicga insect
First Known Use: before 12th centurySee Words from the same year
Definition of earwig
: to annoy or attempt to influence by private talk
Did You Know?
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."
First Known Use of earwig
EARWIG Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of earwig for English Language Learners
: an insect that has long, thin feelers and two curved, pointed parts at the end of the body
EARWIG Defined for Kids
Definition of earwig for Students
: an insect with long slender feelers and a part at the end of its body that pinches and is used for self-defense
Seen and Heard
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