Glossary of Scientific Terms and Expressions: C

— is a VIEWER-PARTICIPANT WEBSITE.Click on the link for information on what that means. This glossary was compiled and edited by Jerry Cates, using multiple sources, including the references listed at the end of this article:

A – B – C – D – E – F – G – H – I – J – K – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – W – X – Y – Z

  • calimistrum (kahl-uh-MISS-truhm): L. calimister = a curling iron for hair; 1. arachnids: spiders — a row of curved, thick setae (rarely in an oval patch) placed dorsally along metatarusu IV of cribellate spiders, used for combing out silk from the cribellum.
  • capitate (KAP-tayht): L. capittus = having a head; 1. botany — forming a headlike mass or or dense cluster, as the flowers of plants in the compositae family; 2. zoology — a linear structure having a distal swelling, e.g., enlarged and globular at the tip, as a bone at the wrist having a rounded, knoblike end.
  • caput (KAH-puht): L. caput = the head; see cephalic region.
  • carapace (KAHR-uh-payse): 1. arachnids: spiders— dorsal portion of the cephalothorax.
  • caverniculous (KAH-vuhr-NIH-kyoo-luhs): 1. zoology — cave dwelling.
  • carina (kahr-EE-nuh): L. carina = hull, keel, boat; 1. zoology — a ridge or keel.
  • caudal (KAH-dull): L. cauda = tail; 1. anatomy — toward, in the direction of, the posterior end.
  • cephalic (suh-FOW-lik) region (= caput = cephalon = pars cephalica): Gr. κεφαλη “cephale” = head; 1. arach. — the anterior (head) portion of the carapace.
  • cephalon (suf-FOHW-luhn) — see cephalic region.
  • cephalothorax (suf-uh-low-THOR-ahx) (= prosoma): Gr.  κεφαλη “cephale” = head + Gr. θωραξ “thorax” (also L. thorax) = breastplate; 1. arachnids: spiders — the anterior division of the spider body.
  • cervical grooves (L. cervix = nape of the neck) 1. arachnids: spiders — shallow grooves separating the cephalic and thoracic regions of the cephalothorax.
  • chelate (KHEE-layte): Gr. χηλη “chele” = a claw, a hoof, or a talon; 1. arachnids: spiders — pincer-like; in spiders refers to the fused chelicerae of some haplogyne species whose fangs and laminae form a pincer.
  • chelicera (kee-LI-suh-ruh) (pl. chelicerae [kuh-LI-suh-ree]): Gr. χηλη “chele” = a claw, a hoof, or a talon + Gr. κερας “ceras” = an animal’s horn; 1. arachnids: spiders — the anterior-most appendages of a spider, i.e., the spider’s jaws, consisting of a basal segment (paturon) and an apical fang.
  • cheliceral extension: 1. arachnids: spiders — a pointed, basal projection behind the clypeus, conspicuous in some Theridiidae, Nesticidae, and Pholcidae.
  • cheliceral furrow (= fang furrow): 1. arachnids: spiders — the groove of the chelicera into which the fang closes.
  • cheliceral lamina; see lamina.
  • cheliceral teeth: 1. arachnids: spiders — tooth-like projections of varying size on the margins of the cheliceral furrow.
  • Chelicerata,
  • chemoreception (KE-moh-rhe-CEP-shun): 1. zoology — sensing of chemical stimuli.
  • chevron (SHEV-rahn): 1. anatomy — a v-shaped pattern.
  • chilum (KHEE-lum) (pl. chila): Gr. χειλος “chilos” = lip, bill, beak, edge, rim, fodder; 1. arachnids: spiders — a small sclerite, at the base of the chelicera, under the clypeus.
  • clade (klayde): Gr. κλαδος “clados” = a young branch or shoot; 1. taxonomy — the term was first introduced by the British biologist Julian Huxley, in 1958, and refers to a monophyletic group; i.e., one that contains an organism and all the descendants of the possibly hypothetical closest common ancestor of all the members of the group. See monophyletic group, and cf. paraphyletic, and polyphyletic groups.
  • cladogram (KLAAD-oh-grahm) — a diagram derived from phylogenetic analysis illustrating evolutionary relationships between groups.
  • clavate (KLAY-vt): L. clava = club, cudgel; zool. — clubbed, club shaped.
  • clasping spine: 1. arach. — an enlarged curved spine that articulates against the leg segment, as in the Mysmenidae, and that is used as a mating spur.
  • claw — see tarsal claw.
  • claw dentition: 1 arach. — the pectinate (i.e., like a comb) ventral surface of most claws, arranged in either a single (uniserial) or double (biserial) row of teeth.
  • claw tuft — a dense brush of hairs between the paired tarsal claws, and by its presence nearly always signals the absence of the unpaired claw; these tufts may be composed of simple hairs or thick broad one (= tenent hairs).
  • clypeus (KLYP-ee-uhs): L. clypeus = a shield; 1. arach. — the space between the anterior edge of the carapace and the anterior eyes.
  • cochlea (KAWK-lee-uh) (= stretcher): L. cochlea = snail, snail shell, spiral, spoon; 1. arach. — a pit at the tip of the epigynal scape, as exhibited by some species in the Linyphiidae family.
  • colulate (KAWL-yoo-late): 1. arach. — having a colulus.
  • colulus (KAWL-yoo-luhs): 1. arach. — a non-functional cribellum that may be as large as a cribellum but is more commonly reduced to a small fleshy lobe or a pair of setae.
  • concolorous (kawn-KO-lor-uhs): 1. arach. — exhibiting a uniform coloration, generally in the context of several proximal characters being described at once.
  • conductor: 1. arach. — the structure of the male palp that is associated with the embolus.
  • coxa (KAWX-uh) (pl. coxae): L. coxa = the hip bone; 1. zool. — the basal, or first attachment of a leg to the body.
  • cribellate (KRIB-uh-let): 1. arach. — having a cribellum.
  • cribellum (kree-BELL-uhm): L. cribellum = a sieve, a little sieve; 1. arach. — a broad, flat, spinning plate positioned anteriorly to the spinnerets of cribellate spiders; the cribellum is considered a homologous structure to the anterior median spinnerets (AMS).
  • ctenidia (tenn-ID-ee-uh): Gr. κτενος “ctenos” = a comb; 1. arach. — a short process, on the male palpal tibia of some members of the Dictynidae family, that bear diminutive, stout, spines.
  • cymbium (SEM-be-uhm); Gr. κυμβιον = small cup, small boat; 1. arach. — the palpal tarsus of the adult male, particularly that containing the palpal bulb, when modified into a cup or spoon shaped structure.



  • anat. = anatomy; arach. = arachnid; behav. = behavioral; biol. = biological (inclusive of all animals and plants); bot. = botanical (inclusive of all plants); Gr. = Greek; L. = Latin; q.v. = L. quod vide = which see; pl. = plural; taxon. = taxonomy; zool. = zoological (inclusive of all animals);



  • Allaby, Michael, Ed. 1991. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology. Oxford Press.
  • Beccaloni, Jan. 2009. Arachnids; Glossary, p. 319. University of California Press, p. 56.
  • Gertsch, Willis J., 1979. American Spiders, 2nd Edition: Glossary, pp. 255-260. Von Nostrand Reinhold Company.
  • Howell, W. Mike, and Ronald L. Jenkins. 2004. Spiders of the Eastern United States; Glossary, Chapter X, pp. 341-348. Pearson Education.
  • Jackman, John A. 1997. A Field Guide to Spiders & Scorpions of Texas: Glossary pp. 173-177. Texas Monthly.
  • Kaston, B. J. 1978. How to know the spiders: Index and Pictured Glossary, pp. 267-272. McGraw Hill Company.
  • Preston-Mafham, Rod. 1996. The Book of Spiders and Scorpions; Glossary, pp. 140-141. Barnes & Noble Books, New York.
  • Rose, Kenneth Jon. 1988. Quick Scientific Terminology: A Self-Teaching Guide. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Ubick, D., P. Paquin, P.E. Cusing and V. Roth, editors, 2005. Spiders of North America, Chapter 72: Glossary — pronunciation guide. Published by the American Arachnological Society.
  • Venes, Donald, Ed. 2009. Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 21st Ed. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia.
  • Williams, Tim. 2005. A Dictionary of the Roots and Combining Forms of Scientific Words. Squirrox Press, Norfolk, England.

—————————————– is a VIEWER-PARTICIPANT WEBSITE.Questions? Corrections? Comments?  e-mail You may also register, log in, and leave a detailed comment in the space provided below.