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.

    • ‘There's the butterfly house, a riot of colourful plants and animals with more than 60 species of butterflies and moths.’
    • ‘Bats and nocturnal moths take to the wing, while butterflies settle and flowers begin to close their petals.’
    • ‘Not until spring was the box opened again, when great was my amazement to find a big moth flapping its wings!’
    • ‘This is a bacterium that is only harmful to Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths.’
    • ‘Butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other pollinators will come for the banquet too.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She brought with her a collection of bees, butterflies, flies, moths, and others.’
    • ‘It won't discriminate between pest caterpillars and those of desirable moths and butterflies.’
    • ‘Butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, cardinals, bluejays and more visited our gardens.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A variety of insects, including some beetles and moths, mimic bees and wasps.’
    • ‘The adult insect is a moth with silvery-white forewings and brown stripes and black markings on each wing tip.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These bats are strictly insectivorous and may be further limited in diet to moths and butterflies.’
    • ‘I look at the sodium vapour lamps and the thousands of insects and moths inside them.’
    • ‘They will turn into chrysalises and, after a few weeks, into butterflies or moths.’
    • ‘With the exception of a few moths, all adult Lepidoptera have two pairs of wings.’
    • ‘More than half of Britain's 2,500 species of butterflies and moths are found here.’
    1. 1.1informal A clothes moth.
      • ‘These are the herbs that were used in medieval times to deter moths and fleas from clothing and people.’
      • ‘Damage from moths, mildew or vermin is also not covered, so if the rats eat your clothes, tough luck Charlie.’


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