Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various large hairy spiders chiefly of the family Theraphosidae, capable of inflicting a bite that is painful but usually not dangerous to humans.
  • noun A large wolf spider (Lycosa tarentula) of southern Europe, once thought to cause tarantism.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A large wolf-spider of southern Europe, Lycosa tarantula or Tarantula apuliæ, whose bite was fabled to cause tarantism; hence, any similar spider of the family Lycosidæ (which see), the species of which are numerous. See also cuts in next column.
  • noun Any one of the great hairy spiders of the warmer parts of America; a bird-spider or crabspider; any species of Mygale, or of some allied genus. See cuts under falx and Mygale.
  • noun [capitalized] [NL.] An old genus of spiders, formerly reputed to be poisonous, belonging to the family Lycosidæ, and now usually merged in the genus Lycosa. It rested on such species as T. apuliæ of southern Europe, now known as Lycosa tarantula. See def. 1.
  • noun [capitalized] [NL.] A genus of spider-like scorpions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of several species of large spiders, popularly supposed to be very venomous, especially the European species (Tarantula apuliæ). The tarantulas of Texas and adjacent countries are large species of Mygale.
  • noun a very large wasp (Pompilus formosus), which captures the Texan tarantula (Mygale Hentzii) and places it in its nest as food for its young, after paralyzing it by a sting.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A species of wolf spider, Lycosa tarentula.
  • noun A "true tarantula", consisting of large, hairy spiders comprising the family Theraphosidae.
  • noun A member of several other groups of spiders, generally characterized by large size, hairiness, or close relation to family Theraphosidae.

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

  • noun large hairy tropical spider with fangs that can inflict painful but not highly venomous bites
  • noun large southern European spider once thought to be the cause of tarantism (uncontrollable bodily movement)

Etymologies

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

[Medieval Latin, from Old Italian tarantola, after Taranto.]

Examples

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