- a vigil beside a dying or dead person.
- a guard set over a condemned person before execution.
- Also called deathwatch beetle. any of several beetles of the family Anobiidae that make a ticking sound as they bore through wood: the sound was once believed to be an omen of death.
Origin of deathwatch
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for deathwatch
In the wainscot of the room a deathwatch ticked its doleful omen.The Golden Dog
The deathwatch, like conscience, doth make cowards of us all.George Cruikshank's Omnibus
Every pulse-beat is in exact time with the cricket's chant and the tickings of the deathwatch in the wall.Excursions and Poems
Henry David Thoreau
It sounds to me like the echoing tick, tick of some great beetle; like the sort of noise which a deathwatch makes, you know.The Lock And Key Library
- a vigil held beside a dying or dead person
- deathwatch beetle a beetle, Xestobium rufovillosum, whose woodboring larvae are a serious pest. The adult produces a rapid tapping sound with its head that was once popularly supposed to presage deathSee also anobiid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012