Definition of weta in US English:



  • A large brown wingless insect related to the grasshoppers, with long spiny legs and wood-boring larvae, found only in New Zealand.

    Family Stenopelmatidae: several genera, including Deinacrida (the giant wetas)

    • ‘The old mine shafts are still there, now home to cave wetas and ferns.’
    • ‘One story written by Eileen Tiller about life at Westhaven shows how the children's lives were enriched by their contact with nature - bush, birds, fish, wetas…’
    • ‘Hemideina tree weta are a group of large, flightless, nocturnal insects endemic to New Zealand.’
    • ‘This takes viewers through the time when New Zealand was part of Gwondana, and shows the plants that flourished then and the animals. which are ancestors of the kiwi, tuatara, moa, weta and frogs.’
    • ‘Tuataras are primarily nocturnal predators of arthropods, especially those associated with sea bird colonies, and tree wetas (giant New Zealand orthopterans).’
    • ‘You might think that a weta is a special effects company, but in fact it's an implausibly large, shiny, scary-looking insect, whose natural habitats do not usually include my kitchen appliances.’
    • ‘All the wetas I've seen have been tree wetas and I've seen them hidden under flaps of bark.’
    • ‘For nervous children going to the toilet had the usual problems of non-flush toilets - blowflies, spiders, and even wetas, and possums on the roof.’
    • ‘Then again, after a conversation about wetas, mice, rats and other rodents this morning with co-workers I don't want to move back into a house for a while.’
    • ‘The New Zealand tree weta, which can be as large as a small mouse, produces vibrations used in mate location by sending bending waves through the sturdy manuka tree.’
    • ‘Import gorillas into the backyard, and amplify the wetas to a flesh-crawlingly revolting size, and Tarzan is reborn as one of ours.’
    • ‘Leggy wetas and spiders are easy to spot but the native bat eludes us.’
    • ‘A session conducted by this well-known entomologist attracted more than three hundred children who laughed hysterically as he let George the weta and other insects crawl across his face and even into his mouth.’


Mid 19th century: from Maori.