/ear"wig'/, n., v., earwigged, earwigging.
1. any of numerous elongate, nocturnal insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of large, movable pincers at the rear of the abdomen.
2. to fill the mind of with prejudice by insinuations.
[bef. 1000; ME erwigge, OE earwicga ear insect; from the notion that it enters people's ears. See WIGGLE]

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Any of about 1,100 insect species (order Dermaptera) characterized by large membranous hind wings that lie hidden under short, leathery forewings.

Species vary from 0.2 to 2 in. (5 to 50 mm) long, and all are flat, slender, and dark, with a shiny outer covering and simple biting mouthparts. Several species can shoot a foul-smelling liquid, formed in abdominal glands, as far as 4 in. (10 cm). Earwigs have a pair of forceps-like tail pincers (cerci) at the back end of the abdomen that may function in defense, capturing prey, folding wings, or fighting courtship battles.

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 any of approximately 1,800 species of insects that are characterized by large membranous hindwings that lie hidden under short, leathery forewings. The name earwig is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “ear creature,” probably because of a widespread ancient superstition that earwigs crawl into the ears of sleeping people. The earwig varies from 5 to 50 mm (0.2 to 2 inches) in length and is flat, slender, and dark-coloured. It has a shiny outer covering and simple biting mouthparts, and it undergoes incomplete metamorphosis (i.e., egg, nymph, and adult stages). This nocturnal insect is usually herbivorous. Several species can fire a foul-smelling liquid, formed in abdominal glands and probably protective in function, for distances up to 10 cm (4 inches).

      The earwig has a pair of horny, forceps-like tail filaments, or pincers (cerci), at the posterior end of the abdomen, with those of the male being larger and of a different shape than those of the female. It has been suggested that the pincers may function in defense, in catching insects and holding them while eating, in helping to fold the hindwings under the forewings, or during courtship fights for possession of a female. When alarmed or aggressive the earwig carries the cerci over its body in a scorpion-like manner. In some species, earwig females exhibit maternal care, defending and feeding the newly hatched immatures.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • earwig — ► NOUN ▪ a small elongated insect with a pair of terminal appendages that resemble pincers. ► VERB (earwigged, earwigging) informal ▪ eavesdrop. ORIGIN Old English, from are «ear» + wicga «earwig»; the insect was once thought to crawl into the… …   English terms dictionary

  • Earwig — Ear wig ([=e]r w[i^]g ), n. [AS. e[ a]rwicga; e[ a]re ear + wicga beetle, worm: cf. Prov. E. erri wiggle.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any insect of the genus {Forficula} and related genera, belonging to the order {Dermaptera} (formerly {Euplexoptera}). They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Earwig — Ear wig ([=e]r w[i^]g ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Earwigged} ([=e]r w[i^]gd ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Earwigging} ([=e]r w[i^]g*g[i^]ng).] To influence, or attempt to influence, by whispered insinuations or private talk. No longer was he earwigged by the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Earwig — Earwig, est le label d une compagnie de disque indépendante. Artistes produits : Homesick James Portail de la musique Catégorie : Label de musique indépendant …   Wikipédia en Français

  • earwig — (n.) (Forficula auricularia), O.E. earwicga, from eare (see EAR (Cf. ear) (1)) + wicga beetle, worm, probably related to WIGGLE (Cf. wiggle). So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people s… …   Etymology dictionary

  • earwig — [ir′wig΄] n. [ME erwig < OE earwicga < eare, EAR1 + wicga, beetle, worm < IE base * weik , to wind, bend > L vicia, VETCH: so called from the baseless notion that it particularly seeks out the human ear to crawl into] any of an order… …   English World dictionary

  • Earwig — For other uses, see Earwig (disambiguation). Earwigs Temporal range: 208–0 Ma …   Wikipedia

  • earwig — ear·wig (îr’wĭg′) n. ▸ Any of various elongate insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of usually pincerlike appendages protruding from the rear of the abdomen. Also called dermapteran. tr.v. ear·wigged, ear·wig·ging, ear·wigs ▸ To attempt …   Word Histories

  • earwig — UK [ˈɪə(r)ˌwɪɡ] / US [ˈɪrˌwɪɡ] noun [countable] Word forms earwig : singular earwig plural earwigs a brown insect with a pair of curved parts at the back end of its body …   English dictionary

  • earwig — [OE] A colloquial Old English term for ‘insect’ was wicga (which would have been pronounced something like ‘widger’). It probably came from the same prehistoric Germanic base (*wig ) as produced English wiggle [13], and so is roughly equivalent… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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