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November 9, 2018 Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook
Word of the Week--"caterpillar"
Definition--the larva of a butterfly or moth, which has a segmented worm-like body and is often hairy or conspicuously patterned.
Discussion--Caterpillars come in many forms. Some are hairy, such as the woolly bear caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth, that many believe can predict the length of the coming winter. Others, such as the caterpillars of large night-flying moths like the luna moth and Cecropia moth, are smooth and green. Many caterpillars have protective devices such as sharp spines that secrete an irratating substance or odor. Still, caterpillars are devoured by birds and the remaining caterpillars are voracious eaters that devour foliage.

Caterpillars have silk glands that open into a mouth part called the spinneret. The caterpillar exudes a silk strand continuously as it moves along. Many caterpillars use the thread to build a cocoon in which to pupate. Most molt their skin (to accommodate growth) five or six times before pupation.

In recent times, caterpillar or caterpillar tread has taken on a mechanical meaning that of the circular tracks, passing over a number of wheels, on which tanks, tractors, and other vehicles intended for rough terrain run.

Etymology--The term caterpillar is from the Old French chateplose, which literally meant hairy cat. That meaning was derived from the Late Latin catta cat + pelose hairy.

Interestingly the French term for caterpillar is chenille, which in English refers to the corded cloth often used for robes. This cloth has the look of hairy caterpillars.

The languages below all show different roots for the language's term for caterpillar--although, you can see some similarity between the German and the Dutch term.

   Foreign Translations
German:  Raupe (f)
Dutch:  rups (de)
French:  chenille (f)
Italian:  bruco
Spanish:  oruga

Jane Ellis      Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook

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