Meaning of CATERPILLAR in English


R ˈkad.ə(r)ˌpilər, - R ˈkad.əˌpilə; -atə- noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English catyrpel, modification of Old North French catepelose, literally, hairy cat, from cate female cat (from Late Latin catta ) + pelose, pelouse, feminine of pelous hairy, from Latin pilosus, from pilus hair — more at cat , pile


a. : the elongated wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth that has strong biting jaws, short antennae, three pairs of true legs, several pairs of abdominal prolegs armed with hooks, and often a somewhat complete coat of fine bristles or coarse shining hairs and that is almost exclusively vegetarian, feeding on leaves, fruit, or other succulent parts of plants — called also worm especially in combination (as army-worm, cutworm, or silkworm )

b. : any of various other insect larvae (as those of sawflies or scorpion flies) that resemble true caterpillars

2. archaic : a rapacious person preying on the community

3. : a machine (as an army tank) traveling on two endless belts consisting of series of flat treads with one belt on each side of the machine and the belts kept in motion by toothed driving wheels so that the machine moves forward or backward with the revolution of the belts

4. : an amusement-park device consisting of a series of connected cars equipped with an enclosing canopy and running on a circular undulating track

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.