[ kob-web ]
/ ˈkɒbˌwɛb /
Save This Word!

verb (used with object), cob·webbed, cob·web·bing.
to cover with or as with cobwebs: Spiders cobwebbed the cellar.
to confuse or muddle: Drunkenness cobwebbed his mind.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of cobweb

1275–1325; Middle English coppeweb, derivative of Old English -coppe spider (in ātorcoppe poison spider); cognate with Middle Dutch koppe;see web
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does cobweb mean?

Cobweb is another word for a spider web. But cobweb is most commonly used to refer to the kind of dusty old spider webs that hang in the corners of places that haven’t been used or cleaned in a long time, like attics and abandoned houses.

For that reason, cobweb is often used in expressions like clean out the cobwebs, meaning to do something to clear your mind or make it function normally again, perhaps after a period of inactivity or confusion.

Cobweb can also be used as a verb, meaning to cover in cobwebs, as in No one had entered the study for years, and spiders had cobwebbed the entire bookcase.

Example: The abandoned house was dusty and full of cobwebs.

Where does cobweb come from?

The first records of cobweb come from around 1300. The term spider web came into use later, in the 1500s. Cobweb comes from the Middle English coppeweb, in which coppe is the Old English word for “spider.”

When they see a spider web with a spider in it, it’s unlikely that most people would call it a cobweb, even though that’s what it is. The word cobweb is most often applied to the dust-covered webs found in unused rooms or in the corner of your ceiling that’s too high to reach when you dust.

Cobweb also has a few less common uses. It can refer to a single strand spun by a spider. It can also refer to anything that resembles a cobweb, such as something that’s flimsy and finely woven, like perhaps a lacey fabric. Even more figuratively, it can refer to a conspiracy or evil plot—a web of lies.

If you say your head is full of cobwebs, it means you’re confused or that your mind feels a bit hazy—like it needs to be cleaned out from disuse, just like a dusty attic. It can also be used as a verb meaning “to confuse,” as in The lack of sleep cobwebbed the detective, and even coffee did nothing to clear his mind.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to cobweb?

  • cobwebbed (adjective, past tense verb)
  • cobwebby (adjective)

What are some synonyms for cobweb?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cobweb


What are some words that often get used in discussing cobweb?

How is cobweb used in real life?

Cobweb can just mean “spider web,” but hearing the word cobweb usually makes people think of dusty attics and haunted houses. It’s also often used in expressions about one’s mind feeling a bit fuzzy.



Try using cobweb!

Is cobweb used correctly in the following sentence?

I walked right through a cobweb in the basement and now it’s stuck to me!

How to use cobweb in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cobweb

/ (ˈkɒbˌwɛb) /

a web spun by certain spiders, esp those of the family Theridiidae, often found in the corners of disused rooms
a single thread of such a web
something like a cobweb, as in its flimsiness or ability to trap

Derived forms of cobweb

cobwebbed, adjectivecobwebby, adjective

Word Origin for cobweb

C14 cob, from coppe, from Old English (ātor) coppe spider; related to Middle Dutch koppe spider, Swedish (dialect) etterkoppa
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