[ tuh-ran-chuh-luh ]
/ təˈræn tʃə lə /

noun, plural ta·ran·tu·las, ta·ran·tu·lae [tuh-ran-chuh-lee] /təˈræn tʃəˌli/.

any of several large, hairy spiders of the family Theraphosidae, as Aphonopelma chalcodes, of the southwestern U.S., having a painful but not highly venomous bite.
any of various related spiders.
a large wolf spider, Lycosa tarantula, of southern Europe, having a bite once thought to be the cause of tarantism.

Nearby words

  1. tarantass,
  2. tarantella,
  3. tarantino,
  4. tarantism,
  5. taranto,
  6. tarantula nebula,
  7. tarapoto,
  8. tararua biscuit,
  9. tarascan,
  10. tarasco

Origin of tarantula

1555–65; < Medieval Latin < Italian tarantola. See Taranto, -ule

Can be confusedtarantella tarantula

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

Examples from the Web for tarantula

British Dictionary definitions for tarantula


/ (təˈræntjʊlə) /

noun plural -las or -lae (-ˌliː)

any of various large hairy mostly tropical spiders of the American family Theraphosidae
a large hairy spider, Lycosa tarentula of S Europe, the bite of which was formerly thought to cause tarantism

Word Origin for tarantula

C16: from Medieval Latin, from Old Italian tarantola, from Taranto

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 tarantula



1560s, "wolf spider," (Lycos tarantula), from Medieval Latin tarantula, from Italian tarantola, from Taranto "Taranto," seaport city in southern Italy in the region where the spiders are frequently found, from Latin Tarentum, from Greek Taras (genitive Tarantos; perhaps from Illyrian darandos "oak"). Its bite is only slightly poisonous. Popularly applied to other great hairy spiders, especially the genus Mygale, native to the warmer regions of the Americas (first so called in 1794).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for tarantula


[ tə-rănchə-lə ]

n. pl. ta•ran•tu•las

Any of various large, hairy, chiefly tropical spiders of the family Theraphosidae, capable of inflicting a painful but not seriously poisonous bite.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.