Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The web spun by a spider to catch its prey.
  • n. A single thread spun by a spider.
  • n. Something resembling the web of a spider in gauziness or flimsiness.
  • n. An intricate plot; a snare: caught in a cobweb of espionage and intrigue.
  • n. Confusion; disorder: cobwebs on the brain.
  • transitive v. To cover with or as if with cobwebs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A spiderweb, or the remains of one, especially an asymmetrical one that is woven with an irregular pattern of threads.
  • n. One of its filaments; gossamer
  • n. Something thin and unsubstantial, or flimsy and worthless; rubbish.
  • n. An intricate plot to catch the unwary
  • n. a web page that either has not been updated for a long time, or that is rarely visited
  • n. The European spotted flycatcher.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The network spread by a spider to catch its prey.
  • n. A snare of insidious meshes designed to catch the ignorant and unwary.
  • n. That which is thin and unsubstantial, or flimsy and worthless; rubbish.
  • n. The European spotted flycatcher.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The net spun by a spider to catch its prey; a spider's web.
  • n. Figuratively, a network of plot or intrigue; an insidious snare; a contrivance for entangling the weak or unwary: as, the cobwebs of the law.
  • n. Something flimsy and easily rent, broken through, or destroyed.
  • n. plural The neglected accumulations of time; old musty rubbish.
  • Made of or resembling cobweb; hence, flimsy; slight.
  • To cover with a filmy net, as of cobweb.
  • To clear of cobwebs.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. filaments from a web that was spun by a spider
  • n. a dense elaborate spider web that is more efficient than the orb web
  • n. a fabric so delicate and transparent as to resemble a web of a spider

Etymologies

Middle English coppeweb : coppe, spider (short for attercoppe, from Old English āttercoppe : ātor, poison + copp, head) + web, web; see web.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Middle English coppeweb, from coppe ("spider"), from attercoppe, from Old English āttercoppe, from ātor ("poison") + copp ("head") + web ("web") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As for Flush's verses, they are what I call cobweb verses, thin and light enough; and Arabel was mistaken in telling you that

    The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1 of 2)

  • As for Flush's verses, they are what I call cobweb verses, thin and light enough; and Arabel was mistaken in telling you that Miss Mitford gave the prize to them.

    The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  • "Last time, we felt what we call the cobweb effect," Rice said.

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  • In the full size photo, you can see that a spider has made a cobweb from the tip of the bud to the leaves down the stem.

    Archive 2006-10-01

  • His letter "To the Stocking-Weavers" extended a radical boycott of taxed commodities to paper money, urging workers to keep their savings close at hand "in metal money": "Put it into no funds, no saving banks, no societies, no common stock; for, all these must, at last, rest upon the Paper System, than which a cobweb is not more fragile"

    William Cobbett and the Politics of System

  • All are held together by cobweb, which is the favourite cement of bird masons.

    A Bird Calendar for Northern India

  • The cobweb was the magic clue by which mankind was to be rescued from all its errors, and guided safely back to the right.

    Doctor Grimshawe's Secret — a Romance

  • How busy and perplexed a cobweb is the happiness of man here, that must be made up with a watchfulness to lay hold upon occasion, which is but a little piece of that which is nothing, time? and yet the best things are nothing without that.

    Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions Together with Death's Duel

  • The diseases that chiefly attack prosperous hives are first of all the clerus-this consists in a growth of little worms on the floor, from which, as they develop, a kind of cobweb grows over the entire hive, and the combs decay; another diseased condition is indicated in a lassitude on the part of the bees and in malodorousness of the hive.

    The History of Animals

  • They worked rapidly around the slope, cutting a clean smooth groove to which the 'cobweb' could be anchored and sealed.

    The Past Through Tomorrow

Comments

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  • cobwebs are very flimsy spider webs found typically inside a building or house which are often covered or combined with dust or lint. They are distinct from spider webs largely because of the lack of a visible spider and the lack of coherent web patterns associated with spiders. Cobwebs often are simply a single strand of fiber stretched between two surfaces. cobwebs are associated with the disuse of a space or area (and by analogy with fogginess of thought as in the expression"cobwebs of my mind"). "The home hadn't been cleaned in months and cobwebs were visible in many corners"

    A humorous question about cobwebs is, "What does a cob look like?"

    June 21, 2009

  • The Great G minor Fantasia
    knits an acoustic cobweb...

    - Peter Reading, Night-Piece, from For the Municipality's Elderly, 1974

    June 22, 2008

  • I love this definition because it's true - it's actually sort of "hypertrue". All cobwebs are so delicate and transparent as to resemble the webs of spiders...

    Nice word too.

    May 22, 2008

  • Maybe WeirdNet's thinking here is that spider-webs form a subset of 'things that resemble spider-webs', and it's putting the more general definition at the top...

    May 22, 2008