Definition of tarantula in English:

tarantula

noun

  • 1A very large hairy spider found chiefly in tropical and subtropical America, some kinds of which are able to catch small lizards, frogs, and birds.

    Family Theraphosidae, suborder Mygalomorphae

    Also called bird-eating spider
    • ‘The Australian spider is distantly related to our tarantulas, which are barely toxic.’
    • ‘Baboon spiders or tarantulas, as they are known outside Africa, are the giants of the spider world.’
    • ‘They had everything from hideous beetles to hairy tarantulas that looked as though they could give an Irish wolfhound a run for its money.’
    • ‘The children were given the chance to handle giant snails, snake, frogs, tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes and cockroaches.’
    • ‘He and colleagues studied several other spider species and so far have found tarantulas to be the only species that use silken secretions from their feet.’
    • ‘The group got to witness pure nature and animals like toucans, howler monkeys, tarantulas and various lizards.’
    • ‘Not so long ago the sight of a large, brown, hairy tarantula was enough to inspire fear and loathing in everyone except the most ardent enthusiast.’
    • ‘Primitive humans would have needed to avoid certain species of animals, as we do now, such as venomous snakes, poisonous frogs, tarantulas and wolves.’
    • ‘If your terrarium is going to be home to any live animals, such as lizards, tarantulas, or other wildlife, make sure you include a water source, by embedding a shallow dish into the soil and keeping it filled with fresh water.’
    • ‘In fact in much of their behaviour Australia's tarantulas act less like spiders and more like mammals, he says.’
    • ‘An evolutionary biologist at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, specializes in trapdoor and funnel-web spiders, and tarantulas.’
    • ‘Yesterday, he took his Rainforest Roadshow to the school and introduced the children to tropical insects such as millipedes, tarantulas and scorpions.’
    • ‘He also came face to face with a bearded dragon - an Australian lizard, stick insects and a tarantula.’
    • ‘Known for its rugged canyons, expansive rolling hills of oak woodlands, and healthy population of tarantulas, the 87,000-acre park offers more than 250 miles of trails.’
    • ‘Researchers are using two species in Belize, the redrump tarantula and the cinnamon tarantula, implanted with radio transponders to help monitor forest degradation.’
    • ‘Like chili plants, tarantulas produce agony-inflicting toxins designed to repel would-be predators, researchers say.’
    • ‘Alternatively, the foot secretions may have evolved independently in tarantulas to help the relatively large spiders move around safely, he adds.’
    • ‘These hot and dry rocky slopes support scorpions, tarantulas, collared lizards, pygmy rattlesnakes, roadrunners, and prickly pear cacti.’
    • ‘We saw tarantulas and spiders and bugs crawling all over the place!’
    • ‘Next, they listened to a brief taped story about a spider while they viewed three photographs of a tarantula.’
  • 2A large black wolf spider of southern Europe, whose bite was formerly believed to cause tarantism.

    Lycosa tarentula, family Lycosidae

    • ‘By means of dancing and sweating, those bitten by tarantulas endeavor to expel the infected vapors.’
    • ‘Tarantism, that is, the disease resulting from having been bitten by a tarantula, was well known in southern Europe, and references to it permeated medical literature, music, and folklore for 500 years or more.’

Origin

Mid 16th century: from medieval Latin, from Old Italian tarantola ‘tarantula’, from the name of the seaport Taranto. Compare with tarantella and tarantism.

Pronunciation

tarantula

/təˈrantjʊlə/