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[eer-wig] /ˈɪərˌwɪg/
any of numerous elongate, nocturnal insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of large, movable pincers at the rear of the abdomen.
verb (used with object), earwigged, earwigging.
to fill the mind of with prejudice by insinuations.
Origin of earwig
before 1000; Middle English erwigge, Old English ēarwicga ear insect; from the notion that it enters people's ears. See wiggle Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for earwig
Historical Examples
  • She had the intense maternal instinct and the brain, such as it is, of an earwig.

    The Rough Road

    William John Locke
  • I must devote a short division of this chapter to the earwig.

    Animal Intelligence George J. Romanes
  • Neither man nor horse can enter, in this respect, into competition with the earwig.

    Everyday Objects W. H. Davenport Adams
  • The earwig is not more likely than any other insect to enter the ear.

  • (i) Reincarnation, as an earwig, or a Hottentot, or an emperor.

    Up and Down Edward Frederic Benson
  • I cannot really believe I am going to be an earwig or an emperor.

    Up and Down Edward Frederic Benson
  • What shall I, this Me, do when I am an earwig or an emperor?

    Up and Down Edward Frederic Benson
  • The care of the earwig not only extends to her eggs, but also to her young larv.

  • From an earwig I obtained a filaria nearly five inches in length.

    Parasites T. Spencer Cobbold
  • This is equivalent to writing a natural history and leading off with panther and earwig.

    Proverb Lore F. Edward Hulme
British Dictionary definitions for earwig


any of various insects of the order Dermaptera, esp Forficula auricularia (common European earwig), which typically have an elongated body with small leathery forewings, semicircular membranous hindwings, and curved forceps at the tip of the abdomen
verb -wigs, -wigging, -wigged
(informal) to eavesdrop
(transitive) (archaic) to attempt to influence (a person) by private insinuation
Word Origin
Old English ēarwicga, from ēareear1 + wicga beetle, insect; probably from a superstition that the insect crept into human ears
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
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Word Origin and History for earwig

(Forficula auricularia), Old English earwicga, from eare (see ear (n.1)) + wicga "beetle, worm," probably related to wiggle. So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people's ears. Cf. French perce-oreille, German ohr-wurm.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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