ar·​thro·​pod ˈär-thrə-ˌpäd How to pronounce arthropod (audio)
: any of a phylum (Arthropoda) of invertebrate animals (such as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans) that have a segmented body and jointed appendages, a usually chitinous exoskeleton molted at intervals, and a dorsal anterior brain connected to a ventral chain of ganglia
arthropod adjective
arthropodan adjective

Examples of arthropod in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The remains turned out to be those of soft- bodied marine animals that lived some 424 to 430 million years ago, during the Silurian Period, and include a host of worms and bizarre arthropods that have never been seen before. Rachel Preiser, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 One dead animal can support a whole pop-up food web of microbes, soil fauna and arthropods that make their living off carcasses. Jennifer Debruyn, The Conversation, 28 Sep. 2023 To see if perhaps crabs were the exception rather than the rule among arthropods, Full decided to study cockroaches. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Turner primarily studied arthropods such as spiders and bees, closely observing them and setting up trailblazing experiments that hinted at cognitive abilities more complex than most scientists at the time suspected. Alla Katsnelson, Discover Magazine, 17 Aug. 2023 The remains inside the trilobite’s stomachs largely aligned with what the scientists expected to find, but they were surprised by the ancient arthropod’s healthy appetite. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 28 Sep. 2023 Because these animals are only distantly related to trilobites, Ahlberg thinks that a neutral gut may be an ancestral condition across arthropods. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 28 Sep. 2023 Shellfish such as shrimp and crayfish are biologically similar to another even more common arthropod allergen: dust mites. Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 While there are plenty of species of arthropods preserved in the fossil record, most fossils only preserve the hard skeletons. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


from base of New Latin Arthropoda, group name, from arthro- arthro- + -poda, neuter plural of Greek -podos -pod

Note: The taxon Arthropoda, "those with jointed limbs," was introduced by the German zoologist Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (1804-85) in Lehrbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie, von v. Siebold und Stannius [Hermann Friedrich Stannius], Erster Teil, Wirbellose Thiere, von C.Th. v. Siebold (Berlin, 1848), p. 4. Note that the first part of the Lehrbuch was published after the second part, released in 1846, an irregularity that has resulted in Arthropoda being incorrectly dated to that year, and credited to both Stannius and von Siebold. See the discussion in Thomas A. Hegna, et al., "The correct authorship of the taxon name 'Arthropoda'," Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny, vol. 71, no. 2 (November 19, 2013), pp. 71-74.

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of arthropod was in 1857

Dictionary Entries Near arthropod

Cite this Entry

“Arthropod.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​thro·​pod ˈär-thrə-ˌpäd How to pronounce arthropod (audio)
: any of a phylum of invertebrate animals (as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans) having a segmented body, jointed limbs, and a shell of chitin that is shed periodically
arthropod adjective

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