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

  • n. Any of various elongate insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of pincerlike appendages protruding from the rear of the abdomen.
  • transitive v. To attempt to influence by persistent confidential argument or talk.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various insects of the order Dermaptera that have elongated bodies, large membranous wings folded underneath short leathery forewings and a pair of large pincers protruding from the rear of the abdomen.
  • v. To fill the mind of with prejudice by insinuations.
  • v. To attempt to influence by persistent confidential argument or talk.
  • v. To eavesdrop.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any insect of the genus Forficula and related genera, belonging to the order Dermaptera (formerly Euplexoptera). They have elongated bodies and a prominent pair of curved pincers at the rear of their abdomen.
  • n. In America, any small chilopodous myriapod, esp. of the genus Geophilus. See Geophilus
  • n. A whisperer of insinuations; a secret counselor.
  • transitive v. To influence, or attempt to influence, by whispered insinuations or private talk.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To gain the ear of and influence by covert statements or insinuations; whisper insinuations in the ear of against another; fill the mind of with prejudice by covert statements.
  • n. The popular English name of all the cursorial orthopterous insects of the family Forficulidæ, representing the suborder Euplexoptera, which has several genera and numerous species.
  • n. In the United States, the common name of any of the small centipeds, such as are found in houses in most of the States.
  • n. One who gains the ear of another by stealth and whispers insinuations; a prying informer; a whisperer.

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

  • n. any of numerous insects of the order Dermaptera having elongate bodies and slender many-jointed antennae and a pair of large pincers at the rear of the abdomen


Middle English erwig, from Old English ēarwicga : ēare, ear; see ear1 + wicga, insect.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English erwigge, from Old English êarwicga. (Wiktionary)


  • The name "earwig" itself is sufficiently puzzling, but "coach-bell" seems, if possible, still more utterly unintelligible.

    Notes and Queries, Number 24, April 13, 1850

  • Biological method, involves the use of natural predators such as earwig, green muscardine fungus, and white muscardine fungus to paralyze and eventually kill the pest.

    The Hindu - Front Page

  • When it comes to the debates, he will need an 'earwig' so he can be fed answers like on that game show movie.

    Latest Articles

  • Foodies will appreciate the two-person booths opposite the open kitchen where you can earwig on the chefs as they work their way through the service.

    West London's top 10 budget eats

  • If all of God's creatures have a useful purpose — a rightful place, as it were — on this planet, then someone please explain to me just what the hell kind of purpose God had in mind for the earwig.

    Why Do Earwigs Exist?

  • I actually can't picture what an earwig looks like, but I can see why you hate them.

    Why Do Earwigs Exist?

  • I shall have to wiki an earwig, as I'm not sure what they are!!!

    Why Do Earwigs Exist?

  • But what in the blue hell does an earwig do besides gross me out?

    Why Do Earwigs Exist?

  • Unfortunately they also stuck this earwig in my ear to be prepared, so I got to hear your whole interview with Colin Firth.

    James Franco Calls Out Meredith Vieira

  • I sat in the back and literally white-knuckled on the seat because I was terrified that an earwig was going to get me.

    Green Lantern: Interview With Tricia Helfer » DVDs Worth Watching


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  • Once called a battle-twig in Derbyshire; arrawiggle in East Anglia; and clip-shears, cochbell, ermit, gavelock, gewlick and gallacher in Scotland.

    May 10, 2011

  • Today I observed a pair of ants struggling and tugging an earwig through the grass by its face and a front leg, along a trail to their anthill. Nature's economy.

    March 8, 2011

  • British slang - "earwig - Verb. To eavesdrop. E.g.'If you heard things said about you that you didn't like, then you shouldn't be earwigging into conversations.'"

    September 23, 2008

  • Wow.

    Kewpid, I really want to find out what they call earwig poo so I can add it to my Specific Excrement list.

    January 15, 2008

  • How to measure earwig poo?
    How to know how much they do?
    Are there scales to measure it
    Those tiny piles of earwig shit?

    Barry Kent (Sue Townsend)

    January 15, 2008

  • Ewwwww! I hate this little devil!

    July 12, 2007

  • earmuff?

    July 12, 2007