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[loh-kuh st] /ˈloʊ kəst/
Also called acridid, short-horned grasshopper. any of several grasshoppers of the family Acrididae, having short antennae and commonly migrating in swarms that strip the vegetation from large areas.
any of various cicadas, as the seventeen-year locust.
any of several North American trees belonging to the genus Robinia, of the legume family, especially R. pseudoacacia, having pinnate leaves and clusters of fragrant white flowers.
the durable wood of this tree.
any of various other trees, as the carob and the honey locust.
Origin of locust
1150-1200; Middle English < Latin locusta grasshopper
Related forms
locustlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for locust
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I put out my hand and caught a grasshopper, or rather a sort of locust.

    Dick Onslow W.H.G. Kingston
  • Leaper the locust cried, while Kiddie Katydid echoed the word.

    The Tale of Kiddie Katydid Arthur Scott Bailey
  • In the light of the present, the past seemed futile—years that the locust had eaten.

    The Hermit of Far End Margaret Pedler
  • Ben Gile tossed the locust into the air and called out, "Shoo!"

    Little Busybodies Jeanette Augustus Marks and Julia Moody
  • Afterward when she and her mother and "Papa Jack" went to live with him at locust, one of her favorite games was playing soldier.

  • She did not go back to locust the next day, nor for weeks after that.

    The Little Colonel Annie Fellows Johnston
  • We had seen them once before, in Priononyx atrata just before she carried a locust into her nest.

    Wasps George W. Peckham
  • Wiggle appeared to claim the locust as a souvenir of the scout's magic.

    Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • The pleasing effect of the design at Seventh and locust streets is largely due to appropriate use of the evolute spiral band.

British Dictionary definitions for locust


any of numerous orthopterous insects of the genera Locusta, Melanoplus, etc, such as L. migratoria, of warm and tropical regions of the Old World, which travel in vast swarms, stripping large areas of vegetation See also grasshopper (sense 1) Compare seventeen-year locust
Also called locust tree, false acacia. a North American leguminous tree, Robinia pseudoacacia, having prickly branches, hanging clusters of white fragrant flowers, and reddish-brown seed pods
the yellowish durable wood of this tree
any of several similar trees, such as the honey locust and carob
Derived Forms
locust-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13 (the insect): from Latin locusta locust; applied to the tree (C17) because the pods resemble locusts
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 locust

"grasshopper," early 14c., borrowed earlier in Old French form languste (c.1200), from Latin locusta "locust, lobster" (see lobster).

In the Hebrew Bible there are nine different names for the insect or for particular species or varieties; in the English Bible they are rendered sometimes 'locust,' sometimes 'beetle,' 'grasshopper,' 'caterpillar,' 'palmerworm,' etc. The precise application of several names is unknown. [OED]

North American tree, 1630s, originally "carob tree" (1610s), whose fruit supposedly resembled the insect (see locust (n.1)). Greek akris "locust" often was applied in the Levant to carob pods. Soon applied in English to other trees as well.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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locust in the Bible

There are ten Hebrew words used in Scripture to signify locust. In the New Testament locusts are mentioned as forming part of the food of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6). By the Mosaic law they were reckoned "clean," so that he could lawfully eat them. The name also occurs in Rev. 9:3, 7, in allusion to this Oriental devastating insect. Locusts belong to the class of Orthoptera, i.e., straight-winged. They are of many species. The ordinary Syrian locust resembles the grasshopper, but is larger and more destructive. "The legs and thighs of these insects are so powerful that they can leap to a height of two hundred times the length of their bodies. When so raised they spread their wings and fly so close together as to appear like one compact moving mass." Locusts are prepared as food in various ways. Sometimes they are pounded, and then mixed with flour and water, and baked into cakes; "sometimes boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter, and then eaten." They were eaten in a preserved state by the ancient Assyrians. The devastations they make in Eastern lands are often very appalling. The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamites that can befall a country. "Their numbers exceed computation: the hebrews called them 'the countless,' and the Arabs knew them as 'the darkeners of the sun.' Unable to guide their own flight, though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence to the doomed region given over to them for the time. Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore, their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the earth (Ex. 10:15; Judg. 6:5; 7:12; Jer. 46:23; Joel 2:10). It seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight! They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground. It may be 'like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them is a desolate wilderness. At their approach the people are in anguish; all faces lose their colour' (Joel 2:6). No walls can stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the countless armies march on (Joel 2:8, 9). If a door or a window be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house. Every terrace, court, and inner chamber is filled with them in a moment. Such an awful visitation swept over Egypt (Ex. 10:1-19), consuming before it every green thing, and stripping the trees, till the land was bared of all signs of vegetation. A strong north-west wind from the Mediterranean swept the locusts into the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 149.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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