Definition of caterpillar noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˈkætəpɪlə(r)//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈkætərpɪlər//
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a small creature like a worm with legs, that develops into a butterfly or moth (= flying insects with large, sometimes brightly coloured, wings). Caterpillars eat the leaves of plants. See related entries: Invertebrates Word Originlate Middle English: perhaps from a variant of Old French chatepelose, literally ‘hairy cat’, influenced by obsolete piller ‘ravager’. The association with “cat” is found in other languages, e.g. Swiss German Teufelskatz (literally ‘devil's cat’), Lombard (an Italian dialect spoken in northern Italy) gatta (literally ‘cat’). Compare with French chaton, English catkin, which resembles a hairy caterpillar.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: caterpillar

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