epig·​y·​num i-ˈpi-jə-nəm How to pronounce epigynum (audio)
variants or epigyne
plural epigynums or epigyna i-ˈpi-jə-nə How to pronounce epigynum (audio)
or epigynes
: an external genital structure of a female spider consisting of a variably-shaped, hardened plate on the underside of the abdomen with typically one or two openings through which sperm is transferred from a male palpus
The epigynum of different spiders is highly variable in size and form, in ways that have little relation to general classification but are characteristic of species.R. E. Snodgrass
The projections on the male palp will fit only into the epigyne of a female of the same species.Ken Preston-Mafham et al.

Word History


epigynum Latinization of earlier epigyne, borrowed from New Latin epigynē, from epi- epi- + -gynē, feminine of -gynos, -gynus "situated (in a specified place) in relation to a female organ," borrowed from Greek -gynos "relating to or having (such or so many) wives," derivative of gynḗ "woman, wife" — more at queen entry 1

Note: The New Latin term was apparently introduced by the Swedish arachnologist Tamerlan Thorell (1830-1901) in "Recensio critica aranearum Suecicarum, quas descripserunt Clerckius, Linnaeus, De Geerus," Nova Acta Regiae Societatis Scientiarum Upsaliensis, seriei tertiae vol. II (1856-58), p. 71.

First Known Use

1867, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of epigynum was in 1867

Dictionary Entries Near epigynum

Cite this Entry

“Epigynum.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigynum. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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