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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Even more basic: Despite the name, the millipede with the most legs has 750. Steve Johnson,, "Hold a giant cockroach (if you want) in new ‘Fantastic Bug Encounters!’ at the Field Museum," 26 June 2019 Though heavily armored with plates, millipedes also curl up to protect themselves. Ellen Nibali,, "This big bug smells good and beware of the Southern Blight fungus on tomato plants," 3 June 2019 This is one of the flatter millipede species, an herbivore who mainly feeds on decaying plant matter. Ellen Nibali,, "This big bug smells good and beware of the Southern Blight fungus on tomato plants," 3 June 2019 Five hundred and seventeen maize weevils were found embedded in a Japanese pot from the late Jomon Period, and 527 millipedes were found trapped in Burmese amber from the Cretaceous. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 10 Mar. 2019 Both terrestrial and marine arthropods, including mites, spiders, millipedes, beetles, and wasps, were found in this amber, which dates back to the mid-Cretaceous era. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "A Squid-Like Mollusk Showed Up in Ancient Amber, and No One Knows How," 16 May 2019 Along with entering the butterfly tent, visitors can view a live bug display that includes millipedes, beetles, milkweed bugs, cockroaches and scorpions. Ashley Sloboda, The Seattle Times, "Butterfly exhibit takes wing at Fort Wayne conservatory," 21 Apr. 2018 Stick insects, millipedes and grasshoppers all light up under UV light. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Puffin Beaks Are Fluorescent, and They’re Not the Only Ones," 9 Apr. 2018 Think of spiders or millipedes, neither of which trip over themselves, despite being equipped only with bug brains. R. Douglas Fields, Scientific American, "Wristband Lets the Brain Control a Computer with a Thought and a Twitch," 27 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about millipede

Statistics for millipede

Last Updated

30 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for millipede

The first known use of millipede was in 1601

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for millipede



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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on millipede

What made you want to look up millipede? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!