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

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 Share [Findings] A fungal parasite that afflicts the reproductive organs of millipedes was named in honor of Twitter. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 22 Nov. 2023 Kids can build block houses, send video postcards, climb a rock wall, and crawl through a human-sized ant hill while observing the museum’s collection of insects, millipedes and tarantulas included. Lauren Dana Ellman, Travel + Leisure, 27 Oct. 2023 Contrary to what their name suggests, most millipedes don’t actually have 1,000 legs. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 July 2023 The Los Angeles thread millipede — a tiny creature that’s been found crawling in some SoCal parks. Ryan Fonseca, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2023 The adult lays its eggs on the hosts, which include spiders, centipedes, millipedes, caterpillars and, sadly, also monarch caterpillars. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 July 2023 Important to note, however, is that paleontologist Michael Brookfield of the University of Texas and the University of Massachusetts Boston, who authored the study on the millipede, made sure to clarify that scientists believe soil worms came before this millipede despite a lack of fossil evidence. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 A number of land creatures make light from chemicals, including various fungi, earthworms, millipedes and fungus gnats, Lewis writes. Madeline Bodin, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 May 2023 Clean up hiding places for slugs, sowbugs and millipedes. oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'millipede.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1601, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of millipede was in 1601

Dictionary Entries Near millipede

Cite this Entry

“Millipede.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


mil·​li·​pede ˈmil-ə-ˌpēd How to pronounce millipede (audio)
: any of a class of arthropods having a long segmented body with a hard covering, two pairs of legs on most segments, and unlike the related centipedes no poison fangs

from Latin millepeda "a small crawling animal," literally "a thousand-footed animal," from mille "thousand" and ped-, pes "foot"

Medical Definition


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