1. a web spun by a spider to entrap its prey.
  2. a single thread spun by a spider.
  3. something resembling a cobweb; anything finespun, flimsy, or insubstantial.
  4. a network of plot or intrigue; an insidious snare.
  5. cobwebs, confusion, indistinctness, or lack of order: I'm so tired my head is full of cobwebs.
verb (used with object), cob·webbed, cob·web·bing.
  1. to cover with or as with cobwebs: Spiders cobwebbed the cellar.
  2. to confuse or muddle: Drunkenness cobwebbed his mind.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cobwebs

web, fiber, network, labyrinth, gossamer, mesh, toil, net, snare, tissue, webbing

Examples from the Web for cobwebs

Contemporary Examples of cobwebs

Historical Examples of cobwebs

British Dictionary definitions for cobwebs


pl n
  1. mustiness, confusion, or obscurity
  2. informal stickiness of the eyelids experienced upon first awakening


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

Word Origin and History for cobwebs



early 14c., coppewebbe; the first element is Old English -coppe, in atorcoppe "spider," literally "poison-head" (see attercop). Spelling with -b- is from 16c., perhaps from cob. Cob as a stand-alone for "a spider" was an old word nearly dead even in dialects when J.R.R. Tolkien used it in "The Hobbit" (1937).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper