Caterpillar
Caterpillar Cat"er*pil`lar, n. [OE. catyrpel, corrupted fr. OF. chatepelouse, or cate pelue, fr. chate, F. chatte, she-cat, fem. of chat, L. catus + L. pilosus hairy, or F. pelu hairy, fr. L. pilus hair. See {Cat}, and {Pile} hair.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) The larval state of a butterfly or any lepidopterous insect; sometimes, but less commonly, the larval state of other insects, as the sawflies, which are also called false caterpillars. The true caterpillars have three pairs of true legs, and several pairs of abdominal fleshy legs (prolegs) armed with hooks. Some are hairy, others naked. They usually feed on leaves, fruit, and succulent vegetables, being often very destructive, Many of them are popularly called worms, as the {cutworm}, {cankerworm}, {army worm}, {cotton worm}, {silkworm}. [1913 Webster]

2. (Bot.) A plant of the genus {Scorpiurus}, with pods resembling caterpillars. [1913 Webster]

{Caterpillar catcher}, or {Caterpillar eater} (Zo["o]l.), a bird belonging to the family of Shrikes, which feeds on caterpillars. The name is also given to several other birds.

{Caterpillar hunter} (Zo["o]l.), any species of beetles of the genus {Callosoma} and other allied genera of the family {Carabid[ae]} which feed habitually upon caterpillars. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • caterpillar — mid 15c., catyrpel, probably altered (by association with M.E. piller plunderer; see PILLAGE (Cf. pillage)) from O.N.Fr. caterpilose (O.Fr. chatepelose), lit. hairy cat (probably in ref. to the wooly bear variety), from L.L. catta cat + pilosus… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Caterpillar — Caterpillar; caterpillar; …   English syllables

  • caterpillar — ► NOUN 1) the larva of a butterfly or moth. 2) (also caterpillar track or tread) trademark an articulated steel band passing round the wheels of a vehicle for travel on rough ground. ORIGIN perhaps from a variant of Old French chatepelose hairy… …   English terms dictionary

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  • caterpillar — [kat′ər pil΄ər; kat′əpil΄ər] n. [ME catirpel < NormFr catepilose (OFr chatepelose), lit., hairy cat < L catta, CAT1 + pilosus < pilus, hair: see PILE2] the wormlike larva of various insects, esp. of a butterfly or moth ☆ [C ] trademark… …   English World dictionary

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