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mid-15c., catyrpel, probably altered (by association with Middle English piller "plunderer;" see pillage) from Old North French caterpilose "caterpillar" (Old French chatepelose), literally "shaggy cat" (probably in reference to the "wooly-bear" variety), from Late Latin catta pilosa, from catta "cat" (see cat (n.)) + pilosus "hairy, shaggy, covered with hair," from pilus "hair" (see pile (n.3)). Cf. also French chenille "caterpillar," literally "little dog." A Swiss German name for it is teufelskatz "devil's cat." "The caterpillar has in many idioms received the name of other animals" [Kitchin, who cites also Milanese cagnon "little dog," Italian dialectal gattola "little cat," Kentish hop-dog, hop-cat, Portuguese lagarta "lizard." Cf. also American English wooly-bear for the hairy variety. An Old English name for it was cawelworm "cole-worm." Caterpillar tractor is from 1908.
The wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth. Caterpillars have thirteen body segments, with three pairs of stubby legs on the thorax and several on the abdomen, six eyes on each side of the head, and short antennae. Caterpillars feed mostly on foliage and are usually brightly colored. Many have poisonous spines.
the consumer. Used in the Old Testament (1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chr. 6:28; Ps. 78:46; Isa. 33:4) as the translation of a word (hasil) the root of which means "to devour" or "consume," and which is used also with reference to the locust in Deut. 28:38. It may have been a species of locust, or the name of one of the transformations through which the locust passes, locust-grub. It is also found (Ps. 105:34; Jer. 51:14, 27; R.V., "cankerworm") as the rendering of a different Hebrew word, _yelek_, a word elsewhere rendered "cankerworm" (q.v.), Joel 1:4; 2:25. (See LOCUST.)