Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various large, hairy, chiefly tropical spiders of the family Theraphosidae, capable of inflicting a painful but not seriously poisonous bite.
  • n. A large wolf spider (Lycosa tarentula) of southern Europe, once thought to cause tarantism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A species of wolf spider, Lycosa tarentula.
  • n. A "true tarantula", consisting of large, hairy spiders comprising the family Theraphosidae.
  • n. A member of several other groups of spiders, generally characterized by large size, hairiness, or close relation to family Theraphosidae.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of several species of large spiders, popularly supposed to be very venomous, especially the European species (Tarantula apuliæ). The tarantulas of Texas and adjacent countries are large species of Mygale.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large wolf-spider of southern Europe, Lycosa tarantula or Tarantula apuliæ, whose bite was fabled to cause tarantism; hence, any similar spider of the family Lycosidæ (which see), the species of which are numerous. See also cuts in next column.
  • n. Any one of the great hairy spiders of the warmer parts of America; a bird-spider or crabspider; any species of Mygale, or of some allied genus. See cuts under falx and Mygale.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] An old genus of spiders, formerly reputed to be poisonous, belonging to the family Lycosidæ, and now usually merged in the genus Lycosa. It rested on such species as T. apuliæ of southern Europe, now known as Lycosa tarantula. See def. 1.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] A genus of spider-like scorpions.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. large hairy tropical spider with fangs that can inflict painful but not highly venomous bites
  • n. large southern European spider once thought to be the cause of tarantism (uncontrollable bodily movement)

Etymologies

Medieval Latin, from Old Italian tarantola, after Taranto .
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • In our notions concerning Substances, we are liable to all the former inconveniences: v.g. he that uses the word tarantula, without having any imagination or idea of what it stands for, pronounces a good word; but so long means nothing at all by it.

    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

  • The Cape is also infested by scorpions, whose sting is little less virulent than a snake-bite; and by the spider called the tarantula, which is extremely dreaded.

    Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 436 Volume 17, New Series, May 8, 1852

  • Europe, to come across a genuine lover of the "tarantula" -- to meet at every corner of the street a great bearded fellow staggering along blind drunk, or attempting to steady the town by hugging a post.

    The Land of Thor

  • Do you not know that the tarantula, which is no bigger than a threepenny bit,70 has only to touch the mouth and it will afflict its victim with pains and drive him out of his senses.

    Memorabilia

  • Some are so caused by philters, wandering in the sun, biting of a mad dog, a blow on the head, stinging with that kind of spider called tarantula, an ordinary thing if we may believe Skeuck. l.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Monk suggested that he name the tarantula Kevin (which I think is a HILARIOUS name for a tarantula) but Coley believes he will name him Spike.

    Dru Blood - I believe in the inherent goodness of all beings: November 2004 Archives

  • Do you not know that the tarantula, which is no bigger than a threepenny bit, (13) has only to touch the mouth and it will afflict its victim with pains and drive him out of his senses.

    The Memorabilia

  • The running spider, called the tarantula, is not very common in Europe, though it is found in some parts of Italy; it is sometimes known to bite people, and an old but false belief held that the poison forced them to keep on dancing till quite worn out.

    Chatterbox, 1906

  • The Mexican red-kneed tarantula, which is native to Mexico, can grow to about 4 inches long, with a leg span of 6 inches, and has a dark body with orange patches on the legs, giving it the "red-kneed" appearance.

    Reuters: Top News

  • Zaryen is Creole for tarantula, which is known to keep attacking despite its wounds

    CNN.com

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