— This glossary was compiled and edited by volunteer scientists from multiple scientific disciplines using multiple sources, including the references listed at the bottom of this page. If you don’t find the scientific word, term, or expression you are looking for, let us know in the comment section below, and we will research the word for you, and add it to the glossary. We desperately need editors to add content to this glossary. If you are interested, please contact jerry.cates@entomobiotics.com:

  • a- ab- abs- L. = off, from, apart, away, out.
  • a- an- Gr. α- αν- “ah- ahn- ” = not, there is not, without.
  • -a L. feminine terminus for many adjectives.
  • aages Gr. ααγης “ah-AWG-ez” = unbroken, hard.
  • aapto Gr. ααπτος “ah-AWP-tos” = invincible, unapproachable.
  • aato Gr. αατος “ah-AH-tos” = insatiable.
  • abact L. abactus = driven away, aborted.
  • abdit L. abditus = concealed, hidden
  • abdo abdit L. abdere = to put away, remove, hide, secrete
  • abdo L. abdomen = the belly
  • abdomen L. abdomen = the belly; 1. zoology — a. vertebrates — the body region containing the internal organs other than the heart and lungs (in Mammalia: bounded by diaphragm); 2. arthropods — the hind region (tagma) of the body containing most of the digestive tact, the gonads, and the genital openings; 2a. arachnids — the posterior division of the spider body (opisthosoma, q.v.), comprising the pedicel and typically unsegmented sac-like portion bearing posteriorly the spinnerets; 2b. Insects — the segments of the body lying posterior to the thorax.
  • abduc L. abducere = to lead away, carry off.
  • abeba Gr. αβεβαιος “uh-beb-EYE-ose” = uncertain, wavering, fickle.
  • abelt Gr. αβελτερος “uh-BEL-tur-ose” = silly, stupid, foolish
  • aberr L. aberr = to stray, wander.
  • abet OFr. abeter = to help
  • abhor L. abhorreo = to dislike, shrink from
  • abie L. abies = the silver fir Pinus picea
  • abien L. abire = to depart.
  • abil L. habilis = easily handled.
  • abject L. abiecto = despair, a throwing away.
  • ablat L. ablatus = removed, taken away.
  • able L. habilis = apt, fit, expert.
  • -able -ible -uble -ble L. -bilis = tending to be, capable of, worthy of.
  • ablechro Gr. αβληχρος “uh-BLEE-krose” = weak, feeble.
  • ablemo Gr. αβλεμης “uh-BLEE-meyse” = feeble.
  • ableps Gr. αβλεψια “uh-BLEP-ee-uh” = blindness.
  • ablus L. ablusus = different.
  • ablut L. abluere = to wash.
  • aboethet -o -us Gr. αβοηθητος “abb-oh-ETH-eh-tose” = hopeless, incurable.
  • abolla L. abolla, Gr. αβολλα “ab-OH-lah” = a thick woolen cloak.
  • abolo -s Gr. αβολος “ab-OH-lohse” = unshed, uncast.
  • aborigin L. aborigineus = native, original, ancestral.
  • abort L. abortus = untimely birth
  • abro Gr. αβρος “ABB-rhose” = graceful, delicate, dainty, pretty, soft, splendid, luxurious
  • abram  Gr. αβραμις “abb-RAHM-iss” = a kind of fish.
  • abras L. abradere = to scrape off, to shave.
  • abroch -os Gr. αβροχος “abb-RHO-khose” = dry, without water.
  • abrot Gr. αβρωτος “abb-RHO-tose” = inedible.
  • abrot Gr. αβροτης “abb-RHO-tess” = luxury, splendor, charm.
  • abrot -os Gr. αβρωτος “abb-RHAW-tose” = inedible, uneaten.
  • abrum L. abrum = a holder.
  • abrum L. abrumpere = to break off.
  • abrupt L. abruptus = torn off, precipitous, steep.
  • abs L. abs = off, from, apart, away, out.
  • abscess L. abscessus = a purulent tumor.
  • abscis L. abscidere = to cut off.
  • absit L. absiti = distant, departed.
  • abstemi L. abstemius = moderate, temperate.
  • abund L. abundare = to abound, overflow, be rich.
  • abyss Gr. αβυσσος “abb-EESE-ose” = deep sea, bottomless pit, unfathomed
  • -ac Gr. ακος, ακη, ακον “AKK-awse, AKK-ee, AKK-awn” = of, belonging to.
  • ac L. pref. assim. form of L. ad- before c (k), qu. at, to, towards.
  • ac Mod. L. = with.
  • aca Gr. ακα “AKK-uh” = softly, gently.
  • acaeno Gr. ακαινα “ak-EYE-nuh” = a thorn, spine.
  • acaleph -a -o Gr. ακαληφα “ak-uh-LEFF-uh” = a sting, as from a nettle.
  • acallo Gr. ακαλλνς “ak-AWL-ense” = ugly, devoid of charms.
  • acalypho Gr. ακαλυφης / ακαλυπτος “ak-AWLY-phes / ak-AWLYP-tose” = uncovered, unveiled.
  • acalypto Gr. ακαλυφης / ακαλυπτος “ak-AWLY-phes / ak-AWLYP-tose” = uncovered, unveiled.
  • acaman -to Gr. ακαμαντος “ak-uh-MAWN-tose” = unresting, untiring.
  • acanth -a -o Gr. ακανθα “ak-AN-thuh” = thorn, prickle, spine.
  • acanthus Gr. ακανθος “ak-AN-thawse” = a prickly plant.
  • Acanthaceae “ak-un-THAY-suh-ee” from Gr. ακανθος “ak-AN-thawse” = a prickly plant: a family (the acanthus family) of dicotyledonous flowering plants first described by Linnaeus, and today containing almost 250 recognized genera and about 2500 species; most are tropical herbs, shrubs, or twining vines; some are epiphytes; only a few species are distributed in temperate regions; the four main centres of distribution are Indonesia and Malaysia, Africa, Brazil, and Central America; representatives of the family can be found in nearly every habitat, including dense or open forests, scrublands, wet fields and valleys, sea coast and marine areas, swamps, and mangrove forests.
  • acar -i LL. acarus Gr. ακαρι “AKK-uh-rye” = a mite.
  • acar Gr. ακαρης “AKK-arr-ese” = short, small, tiny.
  • acat -i -um Gr. ακατιον “ak-AT-ee-awn” = a light, a woman’s shoe.
  • acaul -us Gr. ακαυλος “ak-AY-lawse” = without a stalk.
  • acced L. accedere = to support.
  • accele L. accelerare = to quicken, hasten.
  • accens L. accensus = kindled, excited, set on fire.
  • accessory claws = Arachnida: serrated setae on the distal tarsi of web-building spiders, used to grip the silk line.
  • accinct L. accinctus = well girdled, equipped, armed.
  • accip L. accipere = to accept, receive.
  • accipit L. accipiter = a hawk.
  • accliv L. acclivis = uphill, steep.
  • accol -a L. accola = neighbor.
  • accre L. accrescere = to increase.
  • ace -o Gr. ακεομαι “AKK-ee-awm-eye” = to heal, quench, repair, staunch, cure, remedy, relieve.
  • -acea L. -aceus, a suffix = of, belonging to, having the nature of.
  • -aceae L. -aceae, a suffix = botanical nomenclature, indicative of a family name.
  • acedo Gr. ακηδης “akk-EDD-ess” = careless, negligent, harmless, unburied.
  • -aceous “AY-see-us” or “AY-shus” L. -aceus = a suffix denot. of the nature of, belonging to.
  • acer “AY-sur” L. acer = sharp, cutting; Taxon.: a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maples, comprised of approx. 128 species, most native to Asia, a smaller number native to Europe, northern Africa, and North America; only one species, Acer laurinum, is native to the Southern Hemisphere; the type species is the sycamore maple, Acer pseudoplatanus, the most common maple species in Europe.
  • acer “AY-kur” L. acris / acre “AK-ris / AY-kur” = pointed, pungent, stinging, sharp, sour.
  • acerat “AY-sur-at” L. acerosus = full of, or mixed with, chaff.
  • acerb- “uh-SURB-” L. acerbus = bitter, harsh.
  • acerv “uh-SURV” L. acervus = a mass, heap.
  • acest -o “ak-EST -oh” Gr. ακεσιος “ak-ES-ee-awse” = healing, curing.
  • acestr -a “uh-KES-tr -ah” Gr. ακεστρα “ak-ES-trah” = a darning needle.
  • acet “uh-SEET” L. aceta “uh-SEET-ah” = vinegar.
  • acetab “AY-suh-tab” L. acetabulum = a vinegar cup, the socket of the hip joint.
  • -aceum “AY-see-umm” L. aceus = a suffix denoting of the nature of, belonging to.
  • -aceus “AY-see-uss” or “AY-shuss” L. aceus = a suffix denoting of the nature of, belonging to.
  • ach “AKE” Gr. αχος “AKK-awse” = pain, distress, grief, sorrow.
  • achan “AK-an” Gr. αχανης “AK-an-ess” = mute with astonishment, yawning, wide-moouthed.
  • achen “AK-in” Gr. αχαην “AK-in” = poor, needy.
  • achet -a “uh-KET -uh” Gr. αχετας /  ηχετης  “ak-ET-as / ek-ET-as” = clear-sounding, musical, shrill, chirping (of a cicada).
  • achly -o -s “AK-lee -oh -se” Gr. αχλυεις “AK-lee-eyese” = dark, gloomy, dismal.
  • achor -us “AK-or -us” Gr. αχωρος “AK-awr-ose” = homeless, without a resting place.
  • achoreut “AK-oh-root” Gr. αχορευτος “ak-awr-YEW-tose” = melancholy, joyless.
  • achoro “AK-oh-rho”  Gr. αχωρ / αχορος “AK-awr / AK-awr- ose” = scurf, dandruff.
  • achos “AK-ose” Gr. αχος “AK-ose” = pain, grief, sorrow, distress.
  • achrest “AK-rest” Gr. αχρηστος “ak-RES-tose” = useless, unprofitable.
  • achr -omat -ost “ay-KHR -oh-mat -ost” Gr. αχρωατος “AK-rwah-tose” = without color.
  • aciniform “uh-SIN-uh-form” = Arachnida: one of six kinds of silk glands found in spiders. See also ampullate, tubuliform, aggregate, piriform, and flagelliform, or coronate.
  • acrostichal bristles = Diptera: two longitiudinal rows of bristles along midline of mesonotum.
  • acuminate “uh-KYOO-men-ate” L. acumen = a sharp point, a point, cunning + L. at = before, at, towards; Zool.: tapering to a point.
  • AER /acronym / Arachnida: acronymic desig. for Anterior Eye Row, q.v.
  • aggressive mimicry Arachnida: spider predation on other spiders, via the stratagem of approaching the other’s web, vibrating it as would a snared insect, then attacking the web’s occupant when the latter approaches to investigate.
  • agonistic “agg-oh-NISS-tick” Gr. αγων “AAG-awn” = assembly, contest, struggle; also Gr. αγωνιστης “agonistes” = champion: 1. zoology — combative or aggressive behavior.
  • ALE /acronym / Arachnida: acronymic desig. for Anterior Lateral Eye, q.v.
  • ALS / acronym / Arachnida: acronymic desig. for Anterior Lateral Spinnerets, q.v.
  • alveolus “awl-vee-OH-luss/awl-VEE-oh-luss” L. alveolus = small pit, cavity, socket; 1. arachnids — the concave ventral surface of the male palpal cymbium, i.e., the modified palpal tarsus wherein resides the genital bulb (q.v.).
  • AME / acronym / Arachnida:  acronymic desig. for Anterior Median Eye(s), q.v.
  • AMS / acronym / Arachnida: acronymic desig. for Anterior Median Spinnerets, q.v.
  • anal tubercle “AY-nul TEW-buhr-kul” Arachnida: a small caudal tubercle, posterior to a spider’s spinnerets, that bears the anal opening, also known as the post-abdomen.
  • anal “AY-null” Arthropoda: the posterior basal part pertaining to the last abdominal segment, which bears the anus.
  • angulate “AN-gew-lutt” L. angulus = a corner, angle; Zool.: having an angular form.
  • annulate “AN-yoo-lutt” L. annulus = a signet ring, or more generally; Arthropoda: transverse rings of pigmentation around a body part such as a leg; with ringlike subdivisions, as annulate 3rd antennal segment of certain Diptera.
  • annuli “AN-yoo-lye” L. annulus = a signet ring, or more generally, a ring; Arthropoda: transverse wrinkles, or rings, on an epigynal scape or other anatomical structure.
  • anteapical “ann-tee-AY-pik-ul” positioned just before the apex.
  • antenna (pl. antennae) Arthropoda: feeler-like appendages located on the head above the mouthparts.
  • antennal club Arthropoda: the enlarged terminal segments of a clubbed antenna.
  • antennal scrobe Coleoptera: e.g., snout beetles: a groove in the beak into which the base of the antenna fits.
  • antennal elbow Hymenoptera: with the first antenna segment elongated, and the remaining segments coming off at an angle.
  • antenodal Arthropoda: positioned between the base of the wing and nodus (as in Odonata).
  • antepygidial Arthropoda: positioned just in front of the last abeominal segment (pygidium).
  • anteriad “an-TEER-ee-ud” = anterior, q.v. L. anterius = before, in front of, former + L. -ad = toward; Bio.: toward the front.
  • anterior “an-TEER-ee-ohr” = anteriad, q.v.  L. anterius = before, in front of, former; Biol.: the front, toward the front.
  • anterior eye row (AER) Arachnida: the anteriormost row of eyes, usu. comprising the anterior lateral eyes (ALE) and anterior median eyes (AME).
  • anterior lateral eye(s) (ALE) Arachnida: eyes situated on the anterolateral portion of the eye group.
  • anterior lateral spinnerets (ALS) = anterior spinnerets: 1. arachnids; 1.a. spiders — anterolateral spinnerets, as distinguished from the anteromedial spinnerets (q.v.); these are large in the Araneomorphae, but are absent in most Mygalomorphae.
  • anterior median eyes (AME) (= primary eyes, q.v.) Arachnida: eyes situated at the anteromedial portion of the eye group; morphologically distinct from the other eyes, and often reduced or lost.
  • anterior median spinnerets (AMS) = anteromedial spinnerets; Arachnida: distinguished from the anterior lateral spinnerets (ALS) q.v.; these are present only in some Mesothelae, absent in Mygalomorphae, and represented by a cribellum or colulus in Araneomorphae.
  • anterior spinnerets = anterior lateral spinnerets, q.v.
  • anterodorsal “ahn-tur-oh-DOOR-sul” Zool.: toward the front of the dorsal, or top, surface of the body, appendage, or other anatomical structure.
  • anterolateral “ahn-tur-oh-LAHT-ur-ul”  Zool.: toward the front side portion of the body, appendage, or other anatomical structure; i.e., in front and to one side.
  • anteromesal “ahn-tur-oh-MESS-ul” Zool.: toward the midline front of a body, appendage, or other anatomical structure.
  • anteroventral “ahn-tur-oh-VINN-trul” Zool.: toward the front of the ventral, or underside, of a body, appendage, or other anatomical structure.
  • anus “AY-nuss” Zool.: the posterior opening of the alimentary tract.
  • apical “AY-pik-ul” (also apicad / distal / distad) Zool.: toward the terminus of an appendage, away from the body; i.e., at the end, tip, or outermost part.
  • apodeme “AP-oh-deem” Gr. απο “APP-oh” = out of, away from + Gr. δεμας “DEE-mass”= the living body; Zool.: an external skeletal process.
  • apomorphic “ap-oh-MOHR-fik” Gr. απο “APP-oh” = out of, away from + Gr. μορφη “MOHR-fee” = form, shape, figure, thus the derivative of a (more primitive) structure; Zool.: derived, advanced.
  • apophysis “uh-PAH-fuh-sis”; pl. apophyses “uh-pah-fuh-SEES” Gr. απο “APP-oh” = out of, away from + Gr. φυσις “FYE-siss” = origin, the natural form or constitution, outward form, natural place, one’s nature, thus a protrusion emanating from an anatomical structure; Arachnida: a cuticular or sclerotized projection (evagination), common on male palpal segments, including femur, patella, or tibia, of the palp.
  • Arachnida “uh-RAKK-nud-uh” Taxon.: a class of arthropods first described by Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier (August 23, 1769 – May 13, 1832), a.k.a. Georges Cuvier, a French naturalist and zoologist, in 1812, using the Gr. αραχης “uh-RAKK-ees” = a spider, in reference to all eight-legged arthropods, including such disparate animals as ticks, mites, scorpions, harvestmen, solpugids, and spiders.
  • aranea L. aranea = a spider or a spider’s web
  • Araneae “uh-RAIN-ee-uh” Taxon.: an order of arachnids first described in 1757 by Carl Alexander Clerck (1709 – 22 July 1765), a Swedish entomologist and arachnologist, using the L. aranea = a spider or a spider’s web, to refer to eight legged arthropods that spin webs.
  • Araneomorphae “uh-RAIN-ee-oh-MOHR-fee” (= the true spiders): L. aranea = a spider or a spider’s web + Gr. μορφωσις “MOHR-phaw-siss” = shaping, semblance, form; Taxon.: one of two infraorders of spiders (see also Mygalomorphae) comprised of most modern spiders, including the orbweavers, wolf spiders, jumping spiders, etc.
  • arbor L. arbor = a tree.
  • arboreal “ahrr-buh-REE-uhl” L. arbor = a tree + -eal, a prepositional combining form → of trees; Zool.: tree-dwelling.
  • arcuate “AHR-kyoo-ut” L. arcus = a bow; also L. arcuatus = curved; + L. at = at, to, towards; Zool.: curved like a bow or arc-shaped.
  • arculus “AHR-kew-luss” Diptera: a basal cross vein between R and Cu (wing of Odonata)
  • areole “AHR-ee-oll” see basal areole.
  • arista “uh-RIST-uh” Diptera: a large bristle on the dorsal side of the third antennal segment
  • aristate “AIR-uh-staat” Diptera: having an arista.
  • Arthropoda “ahr-THROPP-uh-duh” (sometimes, for effect, “ahr-throw-POHD-uh”); Taxon.: the phylum first described in 1829 by the French zoologist Pierre André Latreille (November 20, 1762 – February 6, 1833), using the Gr. αρθρον “AR-thrawn” = jointed + ποδ “pawd” = foot, in an obvious reference to animals with jointed feet, but in the more narrow context of the invertebrates, which have segmented bodies as well as jointed appendages.
  • atriobursal “AY-tree-oh-BUHR-suhl” = orifice: Arachnida: the opening of the seminal receptacle of a female spider.
  • atrium “AY-tree-umm” L. atrium = an entrance hall; Arachnida: the enlarged opening in the gonopore in haplogyne females; a cavity in the epigynal plate of entelegyne females containing copulatory openings.
  • atrophied “AH-trow-feed” Zool.: rudimentary, reduced in size.
  • attenuate / attenuated “uh-TEN-yoo-utt / uh-tenn-yew-AY-tud” L. attenuatus = weakened, meagre, unadorned; Zool.: tapering into a long point.
  • autospasy “ah-toh-SPAY-see” = autotomize, autotomy; Gr. αυτος “AH-tose” = self + Gr. σπαω “SPAY-ow” = pluck off, tear, drag away; Zool.: the sacrificial loss of a leg or other appendage at a locus of contrived weakness, usually as a means of defense against predators; in spiders this often occurs at the coxa-trochanter joint, but sometimes takes place at the patella-tibia joint; in anurans this often occurs at the suture where the tail attaches to the body.
  • autotomize “aw-TAW-toh-myzz” = autospasy, autotomy: Gr. αυτος “AH-tose” = self + Gr. τομις “TOH-miss” = knife, thus a willful self-removal or excision; Zool.: intentional removal, or breaking off, by a spider, of its own appendage.
  • axilla “AKK-silluh”  (pl. axillae “akk-SILL-ee”): Hymenoptera: a small sclerite on dorsal side of thorax, usually anterolateral to scutellum.



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


  1. Allaby, Michael, Ed. 1991. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology. Oxford Press.
  2. Beccaloni, Jan. 2009. Arachnids; Glossary, p. 319. University of California Press, p. 56.
  3. Borror, Donald J. 1970. Peterson Field Guides: Insects. Houghton Mifflin.
  4. Gertsch, Willis J., 1979. American Spiders, 2nd Edition: Glossary, pp. 255-260. Von Nostrand Reinhold Company.
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  10. Venes, Donald, Ed. 2009. Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 21st Ed. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia.
  11. Williams, Tim. 2005. A Dictionary of the Roots and Combining Forms of Scientific Words. Squirrox Press, Norfolk, England.


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