the striped, green caterpillar of any of several geometrid moths: a foliage pest of various fruit and shade trees, as Paleacrita vernata (spring cankerworm) and Alsophila pometaria (fall cankerworm).

Origin of cankerworm

First recorded in 1520–30; canker + worm Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cankerworm

Historical Examples of cankerworm

  • Paris society, I know for a fact; has many such a cankerworm in its heart.

    The Yellow Claw

    Sax Rohmer

  • Sickness, like a cankerworm, was gnawing at her life, and dragging her towards the tomb.

    Poor Folk

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Cankerworm, a worm which is very destructive to trees and plants.

    A Treatise on Domestic Economy

    Catherine Esther Beecher

  • Then surely would the years eaten by the cankerworm be given back!

  • I want to see child-faces—even if they can be clouded by envy's cankerworm!

    Lucky Pehr

    August Strindberg

British Dictionary definitions for cankerworm



the larva of either of two geometrid moths, Paleacrita vernata or Alsophila pometaria, which feed on and destroy fruit and shade trees in North America
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