Definition of deathwatch in English:



  • 1A vigil kept beside a dead or dying individual.

    • ‘I was intrigued by the fact that Father Roderick was in Rome and recording on the streets during the deathwatch and funeral for the pope.’
    • ‘Twice, in recent years, I have kept a deathwatch.’
    • ‘During this period newspapers carried front-page stories of his losing battle with throat cancer, and readers maintained a long-distance deathwatch.’
    • ‘When his friend Sir Joseph Hooker's young son fell ill, Darwin drew on his own agonizing deathwatch of Annie to comfort him.’
    • ‘Big Daddy's birthday party brings the family together, but it is actually a deathwatch.’
    • ‘The story focuses on three sisters' deathwatch for their mother.’
    • ‘Or maybe I'm just a sucker for another Hollywood tradition, a deathwatch graced by an angelic kid's big smile.’
  • 2A small beetle with larvae that bore into dead wood and structural timbers, causing considerable damage. The adult makes a sound like a watch ticking that was formerly believed to portend death.

    • ‘Male death-watch beetles bang their heads against the sides of their wooden tunnels to attract females.’
    • ‘Anobiids are similar to lyctids in color and size, but are cylindrical; the common furniture and death-watch beetles belong in this group.’
    • ‘He studied the habits of wasps, death-watch beetles and migrating birds, and corresponded with Hans Sloane on smallpox and the noises made by unborn children in the womb.’
    • ‘The piece of oak pictured left has exit holes of death-watch beetle (larger holes, actual diameter about 3-4 mm) and furniture beetle (smaller holes).’
    • ‘Indeed, the behaviour of death-watch beetle actually makes it more susceptible to surface treatments than common furniture beetle.’