Definition of deathwatch in English:

deathwatch

Syllabification: death·watch
Pronunciation: /ˈdeTHˌwäCH
 
/

noun

  • 1A vigil kept beside a dead or dying individual.
    More example sentences
    • When his friend Sir Joseph Hooker's young son fell ill, Darwin drew on his own agonizing deathwatch of Annie to comfort him.
    • During this period newspapers carried front-page stories of his losing battle with throat cancer, and readers maintained a long-distance deathwatch.
    • Or maybe I'm just a sucker for another Hollywood tradition, a deathwatch graced by an angelic kid's big smile.
  • 1.1A guard set over a person due for execution.
    More example sentences
    • After refusing a last breakfast, the 42 year-old was marched the ten metres or so from this deathwatch cell to the execution room, and ‘Old Sparky’, Florida's electric chair.
  • 2 (also deathwatch beetle) A small beetle with larvae that bore into dead wood and structural timbers, causing considerable damage. The adult makes a sound like a watch ticking that was formerly believed to portend death.
    • Xestobium rufovillosum, family Anobiidae
    More example sentences
    • Male death-watch beetles bang their heads against the sides of their wooden tunnels to attract females.
    • Indeed, the behaviour of death-watch beetle actually makes it more susceptible to surface treatments than common furniture beetle.
    • Anobiids are similar to lyctids in color and size, but are cylindrical; the common furniture and death-watch beetles belong in this group.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
noun
a slit made by cutting with a saw