Definition of moth in English:



  • 1An insect with two pairs of broad wings covered in microscopic scales, typically drably coloured and held flat when at rest. Moths are chiefly nocturnal, and lack the clubbed antennae of butterflies.

    Most superfamilies of the order Lepidoptera. Formerly placed in a grouping known as the Heterocera

    • ‘I look at the sodium vapour lamps and the thousands of insects and moths inside them.’
    • ‘With the exception of a few moths, all adult Lepidoptera have two pairs of wings.’
    • ‘Not until spring was the box opened again, when great was my amazement to find a big moth flapping its wings!’
    • ‘These bats are strictly insectivorous and may be further limited in diet to moths and butterflies.’
    • ‘Butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators will come for the banquet too.’
    • ‘They will turn into chrysalises and, after a few weeks, into butterflies or moths.’
    • ‘These in turn are attracted by night-scented flowers which attract moths and night-flying insects.’
    • ‘This is despite it being no more than six feet wide in places and a haven for birds, mammals, butterflies, moths and wild flowers.’
    • ‘More than half of Britain's 2,500 species of butterflies and moths are found here.’
    • ‘Butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, cardinals, bluejays and more visited our gardens.’
    • ‘A variety of insects, including some beetles and moths, mimic bees and wasps.’
    • ‘There's the butterfly house, a riot of colourful plants and animals with more than 60 species of butterflies and moths.’
    • ‘Does a moth flapping its wings in Timbuktu have any effect on a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean?’
    • ‘But it turns out that the moths do not rest on tree trunks during the day.’
    • ‘She brought with her a collection of bees, butterflies, flies, moths, and others.’
    • ‘Bats and nocturnal moths take to the wing, while butterflies settle and flowers begin to close their petals.’
    • ‘It won't discriminate between pest caterpillars and those of desirable moths and butterflies.’
    • ‘The adult insect is a moth with silvery-white forewings and brown stripes and black markings on each wing tip.’
    • ‘This is a bacterium that is only harmful to Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths.’
    • ‘The network of mature hedges, the areas of long grass and the ponds and streams means there are plenty of insects, especially moths, for the bats to feed on.’
    1. 1.1informal A clothes moth.
      • ‘Damage from moths, mildew or vermin is also not covered, so if the rats eat your clothes, tough luck Charlie.’
      • ‘These are the herbs that were used in medieval times to deter moths and fleas from clothing and people.’


  • like a moth to the flame

    • With an irresistible attraction for someone or something.

      ‘he drew women to him like moths to the flame’
      • ‘But (and here is the contradiction) simply by hating it, I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame.’
      • ‘He argued that as the British and Irish governments were transfixed by the peace process like a moth to the flame, the Sinn Fein leadership, playing by its own rules, benefited from the permanent instability.’
      • ‘She felt like a moth to the flame, knowing that the more time she spent with him, the more battered her world would become.’
      • ‘She could hear the ragged breathing of her prey, drawing her to him like a moth to the flame.’


Old English moththe, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch mot and German Motte.