caterpillar

[ kat-uh-pil-er, kat-er- ]
/ ˈkæt əˌpɪl ər, ˈkæt ər- /

noun

the wormlike larva of a butterfly or a moth.
a person who preys on others; extortioner.

Origin of caterpillar

1400–50; late Middle English catyrpel, probably alteration of an Old North French variant of Old French chatepelose, equivalent to chate cat + pelose hairy (≪ Latin pilōsus; see pilose); -yr probably by association with cater tomcat (see caterwaul); final -er probably by association with piller despoiler (see pillage, -er1); cf. chenille

Definition for caterpillar (2 of 2)

Caterpillar

[ kat-uh-pil-er, kat-er- ]
/ ˈkæt əˌpɪl ər, ˈkæt ər- /

Trademark.

a tractor intended for rough terrain, propelled by two endless belts or tracks that pass over a number of wheels.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for caterpillar

British Dictionary definitions for caterpillar (1 of 2)

caterpillar

/ (ˈkætəˌpɪlə) /

noun

the wormlike larva of butterflies and moths, having numerous pairs of legs and powerful biting jaws. It may be brightly coloured, hairy, or spiny

Word Origin for caterpillar

C15 catyrpel, probably from Old Northern French catepelose, literally: hairy cat

British Dictionary definitions for caterpillar (2 of 2)

Caterpillar

/ (ˈkætəˌpɪlə) /

noun trademark

an endless track, driven by sprockets or wheels, used to propel a heavy vehicle and enable it to cross soft or uneven ground
a vehicle, such as a tractor, tank, bulldozer, etc, driven by such tracks
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

Science definitions for caterpillar

caterpillar

[ kătər-pĭl′ər ]

The wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth. Caterpillars have thirteen body segments, with three pairs of stubby legs on the thorax and several on the abdomen, six eyes on each side of the head, and short antennae. Caterpillars feed mostly on foliage and are usually brightly colored. Many have poisonous spines.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.