Definition of scarab in US English:



  • 1A large dung beetle of the eastern Mediterranean area, regarded as sacred in ancient Egypt.

    Scarabaeus sacer, family Scarabaeidae (the scarab family). The scarab family also includes the smaller dung beetles and chafers, together with some very large tropical kinds such as Hercules, goliath, and rhinoceros beetles

    • ‘The wife of King Albert, Queen Paola, commissioned Fabre, who used the jewel-like shells of scarabs culled from the Far East.’
    • ‘Khepri was the sacred scarab, whom the Egyptians believed was associated with the power of renewal, rebirth and resurrection.’
    • ‘But the scarab also holds deep personal significance for me.’
    • ‘For the moment, the scarabs were lost from sight.’
    • ‘The scarabs appeared to have left the area, but there was no telling when they would return.’
    1. 1.1 An ancient Egyptian gem cut in the form of a scarab beetle, sometimes depicted with the wings spread, and engraved with hieroglyphs on the flat underside.
      • ‘He picked it up, seeing it was a golden scarab.’
      • ‘Gently, he turned over the scarab to reveal miniscule hieroglyphics on the back.’
      • ‘You can get an ancient oil lamp for about $75 or so, or a multitude of Egyptian scarabs and Roman Fibulae for even less, or coins of the ancient world from $20 and up.’
      • ‘In 1995, thieves burrowed through the wall of a storeroom used to house artefacts at the Temple of Montu in Karnak, and looted some 55 scarabs and statues.’
      • ‘For he that carries this scarab is the guard of many a sacred and coveted secrets.’
      • ‘Castellani also incorporated cameos, scarabs, and enamel into pieces of jewelry as had been done in ancient times.’
      • ‘It was some sort of ancient Idol, and I found a necklace with a scarab in it.’
      • ‘The most common Egyptian amulet was the scarab, made in the form of a sacred beetle, and this design continued to be used in early Greek and Etruscan work.’
      • ‘Each merchant's tales of how the scarabs came from the tomb of Tutankhamun grew less and less likely with every member of the caravan.’
      • ‘The ladybirds are suburban scarabs - there is something jewel-like about them, like tiny ladybird cufflinks set with emeralds and diamonds, or enamels, etched with intricate engravings.’
      • ‘This is borne out by scarabs dating from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, which suggest that he was still worshipped some 2,000 years after his death.’
      • ‘They included an Egyptian scarab whose hieroglyphics told how Amen Hotep III of the 18th dynasty shot 102 fierce lions with his own bow.’
    2. 1.2 Any scarabaeid beetle.


Late 16th century (originally denoting a beetle of any kind): from Latin scarabaeus, from Greek skarabeios.