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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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 Imagine a giant millipede crawling along the jungle floor with a leggy, eight-foot-long body. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 6 July 2022 Taylor Swift can add a new honor to her overflowing cabinet of accolades: A new species of millipede from the Appalachian Mountains has been named after her, according to Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 18 Apr. 2022 There is now a species of millipede named after Swift. Fred Sahai, Billboard, 18 Apr. 2022 By referencing related fossils’ body proportions, the team estimates this millipede would have weighed 50 kilograms and measured 2.6 meters long. Nikk Ogasa, Scientific American, 23 Feb. 2022 Until recently, scientists had only found a millipede with around 750 legs. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Dec. 2021 Researchers in Australia announced the discovery of the first true millipede, with 1,306 legs. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Feb. 2022 The Californian millipede species, Illacme plenipes, has up to 750 legs. Katie Hunt, CNN, 16 Dec. 2021 Based on what previous research found on related species, this millipede may stick its beak into fungi to slurp up their innards. ABC News, 19 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of millipede was in 1601

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Last Updated

14 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Millipede.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for millipede


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

More from Merriam-Webster on millipede

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


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