mil·​li·​pede | \ ˈmi-lə-ˌpēd How to pronounce millipede (audio) \

Definition of millipede

: any of a class (Diplopoda) of myriapod arthropods having usually a cylindrical segmented body covered with hard integument, two pairs of legs on most apparent segments, and unlike centipedes no poison fangs

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Did You Know?

The earth is home to about 10,000 species of millipedes. Though they have no poison fangs, many of them can, when threatened, emit a liquid or gas poisonous to their enemies. If their structure were true to their name, millipedes would have a thousand legs, but in fact they have far fewer. Even so, a millipede in motion is a sight to ponder: How can it possibly coordinate all those legs so that it doesn't trip over itself? Like some tiny conga line or bunny hop, it scuttles away to a rhythm only it can hear.

Examples of millipede in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Paul Zimmerman/WireImage, via Getty Images Norman Platnick was having no luck with millipedes. John Schwartz, New York Times, "Norman Platnick, the ‘Real Spider-Man,’ Is Dead at 68," 17 Apr. 2020 The porous limestone walls are laced with thick brown arteries of twigs and creepers; below it, the ground teems with large ants and dark-blue millipedes which dart through the dirt. 1843, "The fight to preserve a 44,000-year-old painting," 20 Feb. 2020 Excess water retention in the growing mix can damage roots that the millipedes would then begin nibbling. oregonlive, "Ask an expert: Will my blooming rose bud survive the winter?," 8 Feb. 2020 Worldwide, there are an estimated 12,000 millipede species and 900 species of tarantulas. Jani Actman, National Geographic, "Bug smuggling is big business," 5 Sep. 2019 By contrast, Dear Inga is very on-trend with graphic tabletops made from the building’s old Anna’s Danish Cookies sign, wooden millipede-like light fixtures and teal accents. Soleil Ho,, "Dear Inga will take you home," 19 Dec. 2019 Two months earlier, emperor scorpions and giant African millipedes from Tanzania had escaped from a package addressed to Lapkiewicz on a postal service delivery truck. Jani Actman, National Geographic, "Bug smuggling is big business," 5 Sep. 2019 According to a press release, the millipede-like fossil is about 550 million years old and was found in rock formations near the city of Yiling in east central China. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Ancient Worm Died in Its Tracks, Shedding Light on Animal Movement," 7 Sep. 2019 Found in China's Yangtze Gorge, along with 34 other fossils of the same species, researchers believe Y. spiciformis is related to a group of anthropods that includes crustaceans and millipedes or annelids. Fox News, "'Death march' of 550M year-old worm might be earliest known animal trail, study finds," 6 Sep. 2019

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

1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for millipede

Latin millepeda, a small crawling animal, from mille thousand + ped-, pes foot — more at foot

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Time Traveler for millipede

Time Traveler

The first known use of millipede was in 1601

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Statistics for millipede

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Millipede.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for millipede


How to pronounce millipede (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of millipede

: a small creature that is like an insect and that has a long, thin body with many legs


mil·​li·​pede | \ ˈmi-lə-ˌpēd How to pronounce millipede (audio) \

Kids Definition of millipede

: an animal that is an arthropod with a long roundish body somewhat like that of a centipede but with two pairs of legs on most of its many body sections


mil·​li·​pede | \ ˈmil-ə-ˌpēd How to pronounce millipede (audio) \

Medical Definition of millipede

: any of a class (Diplopoda) of arthropods having usually a cylindrical segmented body, two pairs of legs on most segments, and including some forms that secrete toxic substances causing skin irritation but that unlike centipedes possess no poison fangs

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More from Merriam-Webster on millipede

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with millipede

Spanish Central: Translation of millipede

Nglish: Translation of millipede for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about millipede

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