One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A wormlike marine bivalve mollusc with reduced shells which it uses to drill into wood. It can cause substantial damage to wooden structures and (formerly) ships.
Genus Teredo, family Teredinidae: several species, in particular T. navalisAlso called shipworm
- ‘She did not sustain any serious damage in the Baltic Sea where the water is too cold for ship worms (teredos) to survive.’
- ‘It has been tried before but the bamboo became completely waterlogged and eaten by teredos before the Pacific was half crossed.’
- ‘I first became acquainted with teredos while working on wooden boats in the San Francisco Bay area.’
- ‘In the age of wooden ships, teredos and other wood-borers were a tremendous problem.’
- ‘In early wooden ships, a sheathing of metallic copper was used to protect the timbers from being invaded by shipworms known as teredos - worms that bore into wood and weaken its structure.’
Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek terēdōn; related to teirein ‘rub hard, wear away’.
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