os·​me·​te·​ri·​um | \ ˌäz-mə-ˈtir-ē-əm How to pronounce osmeterium (audio) \
plural osmeteria\ ˌäz-​mə-​ˈtir-​ē-​ə How to pronounce osmeteria (audio) \

Definition of osmeterium

: a protrusible glandular process of swallowtail larvae that emits a disagreeable odor for defensive purposes

First Known Use of osmeterium

1817, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for osmeterium

alteration of earlier osmaterium, probably from Greek osma-, stem of osmáomai, osmâsthai "to smell" (derivative of osmḗ "smell, odor") + -tērion, suffix of containers and locations (derivative of -tēr, agent suffix) — more at osmium

Note: Term introduced in William Kirby and William Spence's Introduction to Entomology, vol. 2 (London, 1817), p. 244: "I shall next beg your attention to those insects that emit their smell from particular organs. Of these, some are furnished with a kind of scent-vessels, which I shall call osmateria…."

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The first known use of osmeterium was in 1817

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Cite this Entry

“Osmeterium.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/osmeterium. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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