silk·​worm ˈsilk-ˌwərm How to pronounce silkworm (audio)
: a moth whose larva spins a large amount of strong silk in constructing its cocoon
especially : an Asian moth (Bombyx mori of the family Bombycidae) whose rough wrinkled hairless caterpillar produces the silk of commerce

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In addition, impressions of mulberry leaves, considered a sign of silkworm production, were found, indicating that Sanyangzhuang was one of the places where the Silk Road began. Bo Zhang, Discover Magazine, 16 Dec. 2010 His collaborators at the Transgenic Silkworm Research Unit in Tsukuba, Japan, have taken a gene used by sea sponges to form glass skeletons from silica, and introduced it into a silkworm strain. Steve Nadis, Discover Magazine, 29 Mar. 2013 Spewed from the salivary glands of silkworm caterpillars, this natural fibre is strong, flexible and biodegradable. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 10 July 2012 Once their cocoon is complete, the sericulture process traditionally includes killing the silkworm by boiling or steaming it alive. Ryan Egglestone, Discover Magazine, 12 Jan. 2021 The moths have been spreading steadily through North America since the 1860s, when they were imported as part of a failed effort to begin a silkworm industry. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2022 Trouvelot was looking to breed a hardy silk-producing insect that was less susceptible to disease than the silkworm moth, according to the Smithsonian Institution. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Mar. 2022 These startups are far from the only ones focusing on silkworm silk. Max G. Levy, Wired, 28 June 2021 The silkworm is the larva of Bombyx mori, the domestic silk moth. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 July 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of silkworm was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near silkworm

Cite this Entry

“Silkworm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


silk·​worm ˈsil-ˌkwərm How to pronounce silkworm (audio)
: any of various moth larvae that spin a large amount of silk to make a cocoon
especially : a wrinkled hairless yellowish caterpillar that is the larva of an Asian moth, is raised in captivity on mulberry leaves, and produces a strong silk that is the silk most often used for thread or cloth

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