Definition of centipede in US English:



  • A predatory myriapod invertebrate with a flattened elongated body composed of many segments. Most segments bear a single pair of legs.

    Class Chilopoda: several orders

    • ‘These tiny myriapods generally resemble very small centipedes.’
    • ‘Yet, as Yearley has observed, it is difficult to convince the general public that species such as spiders and centipedes are as worthy of conservation as brightly coloured birds or appealing mammals.’
    • ‘The rubbish also attracted beetles, flies, centipedes and millipedes.’
    • ‘Adding to the list of ignored forewarnings from the volcano, they reported that poisonous centipedes and snakes had swarmed over the outskirts of the city and that people had been dying from an epidemic triggered by volcanic pollution.’
    • ‘Curiously, the number of trunk segments in centipedes is always odd.’
    • ‘A hospital spokesman said: ‘Squirrels have been a problem in the roofspace of the low rise block of the offices on West Park, along with occasional visits from birds, wasps and centipedes.’’
    • ‘Although the burrows with the trapdoor provide protection against most natural enemies e.g. wasps and centipedes, some are still able to invade the burrows and additional defense mechanisms are used to overcome this problem.’
    • ‘For David, the real challenge of filming the world's invertebrates came not from confronting swarms of bees and giant bat-eating centipedes, but from filming their miniature universe.’
    • ‘In their burrows, funnel-webs face aggressive predators such as centipedes and king crickets.’
    • ‘All of the known Mesozoic centipedes, including C. oberlii, are morphologically indistinguishable from extant centipedes.’
    • ‘There were scorpions inside jars, and papers were cluttered underneath them; drawings of spiders, centipedes, and large ants.’
    • ‘Safe for now the Scorpion continued on its journey, its targets for tonight were insects, spiders, centipedes, and other scorpions.’
    • ‘Silurian strata have provided likely ascomycete fossils (a group of fungi), as well as remains of the first arachnids and centipedes.’
    • ‘The arthropodes, like centipedes, beetles, millipedes and worms, bring in the finishing touches to complete the composting.’
    • ‘His band practices in the damp room next door, on a red-painted floor crawling with centipedes and spiders.’
    • ‘Onychophorans themselves have few predators, except perhaps insect carnivores such as centipedes, birds and rodents.’
    • ‘If one is on a holiday with the entire family, he may visit the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center which is an artificial shelter of numerous insects like centipedes and beautiful butterflies.’
    • ‘Some arthropods, like the centipedes, millipedes, and insects, have legs with a single branch (uniramous appendages).’
    • ‘Other than scorpions, centipedes have to be the most disgusting bug on earth.’
    • ‘Insects mined and bored every bit of wood and leaf, while centipedes and millipedes crawled all over.’


Mid 17th century: from French centipède or Latin centipeda, from centum ‘a hundred’ + pes, ped- ‘foot’.