ter·​mite ˈtər-ˌmīt How to pronounce termite (audio)
: any of numerous pale-colored soft-bodied social insects (order Isoptera) that live in colonies consisting usually of winged sexual forms, wingless sterile workers, and soldiers, feed on wood, and include some which are very destructive to wooden structures and trees

called also white ant

Examples of termite in a Sentence

The house has a lot of termite damage.
Recent Examples on the Web There are several perilous sequences in which animals try to hurt or chase one another, plus characters are nearly pushed out of a plane’s door or killed by a termite’s acidic spit. Common Sense Media, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2023 Lions rested in the shade, termites built giant ventilation mounds, and elephants evolved giant ears that could flap like fans. WIRED, 30 Sep. 2023 Still, the idea of letting a rival come in to woo away viewers is a bit of a risk — a move tantamount to a homeowner letting termites come into a house and gnaw at its innards. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 24 Sep. 2023 Meanwhile, termite mounds—the world’s tallest biological structures—are beginning to inspire eco-friendly cooling and heating systems, while fungi growth is providing the architectural underpinnings for a new generation of durable and sustainable building materials. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 28 Sep. 2023 Scoping rather than snuffing out their prey, these cats rely on their superior sense of sight, searching the terrain from the tops of tree stumps or termite mounds. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 26 Sep. 2023 Beyond honey, these omnivorous mammals nosh on fruits, such as figs and berries, as well as insects, including termites, beetles and ants. Carlyn Kranking, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Aug. 2023 Besides being a general nuisance, cockroaches and flies can spread diseases such as salmonella and dysentery, while termites, silverfish and ants chip away at the structure of your home. Lori Keong, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2023 For example, no-one has a good word to say about the cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, or termites that share our homes. Steve Nicholls, Time, 2 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


New Latin Termit-, Termes, genus of termites, from Late Latin, a worm that eats wood, alteration of Latin tarmit-, tarmes; akin to Greek tetrainein to bore — more at throw entry 1

First Known Use

1781, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of termite was in 1781

Dictionary Entries Near termite

Cite this Entry

“Termite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/termite. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ter·​mite ˈtər-ˌmīt How to pronounce termite (audio)
: any of a group of pale-colored soft-bodied social insects that feed on wood, live in colonies consisting of winged sexual forms, wingless sterile workers, and often soldiers, and that include some very destructive to wooden structures and trees

called also white ant

More from Merriam-Webster on termite

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