One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A terrestrial arachnid with pincers similar to those of a lobster and a poisonous sting at the end of its jointed tail, which it can hold curved over its back. Most kinds live in tropical and subtropical areas.
- ‘As the frog struggles against the current with the scorpion on his back, he suddenly feels the piercing sting of the scorpion's tail.’
- ‘Some of the more poisonous scorpions lived in the deserts of Egypt.’
- ‘Turning swiftly toward its prey, the scorpion darts forward with pincers outstretched, finally grabbing and stinging its victim.’
- ‘Inceoglu collected venom - carefully - by permitting scorpions to sting vials covered with a film.’
- ‘A few yards away, a South African officer has found one of the small but highly poisonous scorpions which infest the area.’
- 1.1 Used in names of arachnids and insects resembling a scorpion, e.g. false scorpion, water scorpion.
- 1.2the Scorpion The zodiacal sign Scorpio or the constellation Scorpius.
- 1.3scorpionsliterary A whip with metal points.
Middle English: via Old French from Latin scorpio(n-), based on Greek skorpios ‘scorpion’.
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