any of various annelids of the family Oligochaeta, including earthworms and certain small, freshwater species, having locomotory setae sunk directly in the body wall.

Nearby words

  1. oligarchy,
  2. oligemia,
  3. oligo-,
  4. oligoamnios,
  5. oligocene,
  6. oligoclase,
  7. oligocystic,
  8. oligodactyly,
  9. oligodendria,
  10. oligodendrocyte

Origin of oligochaete

1875–80; < New Latin Oligochaeta; see oligo-, chaeta

Related formsol·i·go·chae·tous, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for oligochaete



any freshwater or terrestrial annelid worm of the class Oligochaeta, having bristles (chaetae) borne singly along the length of the body: includes the earthworms


of, relating to, or belonging to the class Oligochaeta

Word Origin for oligochaete

C19: from New Latin; see oligo-, chaeta

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 oligochaete


oligochete (ŏlĭ-gō-kēt′, ōlĭ-)

Any of various annelid worms of the class Oligochaeta. Oligochaetes, unlike polychaetes, have relatively few bristles (called setae) along the body, and often have a thickened, ringlike region (called a clitellum) that secretes a substance used for enclosing eggs in a cocoon. Oligochaetes include the earthworms and a few small freshwater forms. Compare polychaete.
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