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earwig

Line breaks: ear¦wig
Pronunciation: /ˈɪəwɪɡ
 
/

Definition of earwig in English:

noun

A small elongated insect with a pair of terminal appendages that resemble pincers.
  • Order Dermaptera: several families
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] British informal 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: he was so sure to be earwigged in private that what he heard or said openly went for little

Origin

Old English ēarwicga, from ēare 'ear' + wicga 'earwig' (probably related to wiggle); the insect was once thought to crawl into the human ear.

Definition of earwig in:

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