Definition of earwig in English:

earwig

Syllabification: ear·wig
Pronunciation: /ˈi(ə)rˌwig
 
/

noun

  • A small elongated insect with a pair of terminal appendages that resemble pincers. The females typically care for their eggs and young until they are grown.
    • Order Dermaptera: several families
    More example sentences
    • He published papers illustrating discontinuous variation in floral symmetry and in terminal forceps of earwigs and the hornlike processes seen in certain male beetles.
    • Even earwigs can be useful because they eat aphids, codling moth eggs and the red spider mite.
    • These stories have little basis in fact, although earwigs have been known to cause a mildly painful bite when sat upon or handled.

verb (earwigs, earwigging, earwigged)

[no object] informal , chiefly British Back to top  
  • 1Eavesdrop on a conversation: he looked behind him to see if anyone was earwigging
    More example sentences
    • After the conference speeches are over, I drift around the hotel bars earwigging on conversations.
    • Like most writers, Dewar is a good listener, earwigging on other's conversations.
    • I earwigged into a conversation with her last season and she told me what a beautiful horse it was.
  • 1.1 [with object] archaic Influence (someone) by secret means.

Origin

Old English ēarwicga, from ēare 'ear' + wicga 'earwig' (probably related to wiggle). The insect is so named because it was once thought to crawl into the human ear.

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elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody