Definition of tarantula in English:


Line breaks: tar¦an|tula
Pronunciation: /təˈrantjʊlə


  • 1A very large hairy spider found chiefly in tropical and subtropical America, some kinds of which are able to catch small lizards, frogs, and birds. Also called bird-eating spider.
    • Family Theraphosidae, suborder Mygalomorphae
    More example sentences
    • The children were given the chance to handle giant snails, snake, frogs, tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes and cockroaches.
    • An evolutionary biologist at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, specializes in trapdoor and funnel-web spiders, and tarantulas.
    • These hot and dry rocky slopes support scorpions, tarantulas, collared lizards, pygmy rattlesnakes, roadrunners, and prickly pear cacti.
  • 2A large black wolf spider of southern Europe, whose bite was formerly believed to cause tarantism.
    • Lycosa tarentula, family Lycosidae
    More example sentences
    • By means of dancing and sweating, those bitten by tarantulas endeavor to expel the infected vapors.
    • Tarantism, that is, the disease resulting from having been bitten by a tarantula, was well known in southern Europe, and references to it permeated medical literature, music, and folklore for 500 years or more.


mid 16th century: from medieval Latin, from Old Italian tarantola 'tarantula', from the name of the seaport Taranto. Compare with tarantella and tarantism.

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