Definition of locust in US English:



  • 1A large and mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. It is usually solitary, but from time to time there is a population explosion, and it migrates in vast swarms that cause extensive damage to crops.

    Several species in the family Acrididae, including the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), which is sometimes seen in Europe

    • ‘They watched with mounting concern as swarms of locusts began to sweep southwards from breeding grounds in North Africa.’
    • ‘Under laboratory conditions, flying insects such as fruit flies and migratory locusts have powered stationary engines with their beating wings.’
    • ‘Members of the grasshopper family, including crickets, locusts, and katydids, hear with small disks near one of the front leg joints.’
    • ‘It is used routinely in Brazil to control spittlebugs on alfalfa or sugarcane, and one variety is now being applied widely in Africa against locusts and grasshoppers.’
    • ‘Many researchers have thought that Mormon crickets - and possibly grasshoppers - behave like their cousins, migratory locusts.’
    • ‘Swarms of locusts damaged crops and pastures across the state during the autumn.’
    • ‘Vast swarms of locusts have swept over South Sulawesi in the past few days, destroying rice and secondary crops.’
    • ‘A swarm of desert locusts may consist of up to 50 billion individuals.’
    • ‘The biopesticide is not toxic to humans and kills only locusts and grasshoppers and a very limited number of other insects; it has no other environmental side-effects.’
    • ‘Insects such as the red locust, crickets, grasshoppers, and flying ants are collected in season and either fried with salt to make popular snacks or dried for later use.’
    • ‘He was a wild sort of man who lived in the desert and ate locusts and wild honey.’
    • ‘Phase change causes the locusts to swarm over vegetation, behavior that has wreaked havoc on crops in Africa and the Middle East for centuries.’
    • ‘He lived in the wilderness, wore clothes made of camel hair, and ate locusts and wild honey.’
    • ‘When you get back, you can eat wild locusts and honey and manna from heaven.’
    • ‘Hot, dry weather across the region has created the ideal breeding grounds for the plague that, until now, has mostly advanced - like the locust's grasshopper cousin - by hopping and walking.’
    • ‘If they are allowed to survive for more than three weeks, these hoppers will grow wings and a new swarm of locusts will take to the skies in search of new vegetation to destroy.’
    • ‘The fungus is deadly to locusts and grasshoppers but has proven harmless to other insects, plants, and animals - including people.’
    • ‘Although locusts and grasshoppers are identical in appearance, they differ in their behavior.’
    • ‘In Mauritania, adult locusts have been forming swarms in parts of the north and northwest where vegetation is drying out, and some of these swarms have been seen moving northwards towards Morocco.’
    • ‘Song's work suggested that the desert locust colonized Africa from North America.’
    1. 1.1US The periodical cicada.
      • ‘We get confused because both cicadas and locust emerge periodically.’
      • ‘These are known as periodical cicadas but are also commonly called 17-year cicadas, 13-year cicadas, or locusts.’
  • 2The large edible pod of some plants of the pea family, in particular the carob bean, which is said to resemble a locust.

    • ‘Others, like gum guar (obtained from the cluster bean), or locust bean gum (from the locust bean), come from seedpods.’
    • ‘In cream cheese, xanthan gum interacts synergistically with guar and locust bean gum, notes Sebree.’
    • ‘Other packets of Jellyace Buko Bandan labelled as containing locust bean gum are safe.’
    • ‘I learn that one ice cream ingredient, locust bean gum, was used in ancient Egypt to seal the wrappings on mummies.’
  • 3Any of a number of pod-bearing trees of the pea family, in particular the carob tree and the black locust.

    • ‘Judging by the large thorns, they were honey locust trees.’
    • ‘Shipman proposed increasing the number of locust trees that surrounded the house, further ensconcing it in a natural setting.’
    • ‘Secondary contributions were made by common bluff-base or crest trees, including elm, locust, and ash.’
    • ‘Kaya and I were taking a walk to the pond this morning when along the roadside I noticed a locust tree that still had some long felty pods hanging from it.’
    • ‘Except for the existing locust tree, the two sides of the yard are symmetrical.’
    • ‘Several wood species are listed, including cedar, redwood and locust.’
    • ‘We look up at the sky through a fringe of leaves belonging to a locust tree or a mimosa, the rows of lacy leaves forming a mantilla overhead.’
    • ‘The locust trees are also broadly similar to the carob.’
    • ‘The field is twenty acres, sloping gradually upward to the scrub locust trees along the fence line.’
    • ‘Why do they and honey locusts have sugary pods so attractive to livestock?’
    • ‘The remaining assemblage included red oak, ash, a small amount of cottonwood/willow, and locust.’
    • ‘A favorite stroll in Riverside Park takes me past a row of honey locust trees.’
    • ‘My five new locust trees are too tender to bear his weight just yet.’
    • ‘For shade around the periphery, she planted a locust, a pepper tree, and ‘Swan Hill’ olive trees.’
    • ‘Beyond this is an open-air courtyard with a waterfall and locust trees lit up in the dark.’
    • ‘My own tale began when I decided to do something about the four locust trees that were growing at disorderly angles in my backyard, blotting out both the sun and my chances of becoming a stop on the local garden tour.’


Middle English: via Old French locuste from Latin locusta ‘locust, crustacean’.