1

earwig

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noun ear·wig \ˈir-ˌwig\

Definition of earwig

  1. :  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 was our Word of the Day on 02/05/2011. Hear the podcast!

Origin and Etymology of earwig

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


First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Insect Terms


2

earwig

verb ear·wig

Definition of earwig

earwigged

;

earwigging

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  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."

1804

First Known Use of earwig

1804


EARWIG Defined for English Language Learners

earwig

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noun

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

earwig

play
noun ear·wig \ˈir-ˌwig\

Definition of earwig for Students

  1. :  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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