• synonyms


plural noun, singular can·thar·is [kan-thar-is] /kænˈθær ɪs/.
  1. Spanish fly(def 1).
  2. cantharis. Spanish fly(def 2).
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Origin of cantharides

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin, plural of cantharis < Greek kantharís blister fly

Spanish fly

  1. Also called cantharides. a preparation of powdered blister beetles, especially the Spanish fly, used medicinally as a counterirritant, diuretic, and aphrodisiac.
  2. Also Span·ish·fly. Also called cantharis. a common European blister beetle, Cantharis (Lytta) vesicatoria, that yields this preparation.
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Origin of Spanish fly

First recorded in 1400–50; so called from the fact that the beetles are found in abundance in Spain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cantharides

Historical Examples

  • The mucus of the bladder is increased by cantharides, and perhaps by oil of turpentine.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II

    Erasmus Darwin

  • I extract from them the following details concerning the Cantharides.

  • What are the singular forms of cantharides, phnomena, and data?

  • Cantharides in powder may, of course, be detected by its appearance.

  • The Cantharides or Spanish Flies, is a species of insect every one has heard of.

British Dictionary definitions for cantharides


pl n singular cantharis (ˈkænθərɪs)
  1. a diuretic and urogenital stimulant or irritant prepared from the dried bodies of Spanish fly (family Meloidae, not Cantharidae), once thought to be an aphrodisiacAlso called: Spanish fly
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Word Origin

C15: from Latin, plural of cantharis, from Greek kantharis Spanish fly

Spanish fly

  1. a European blister beetle, Lytta vesicatoria (family Meloidae), the dried bodies of which yield the pharmaceutical product cantharides
  2. another name for cantharides
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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