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[kob-web] /ˈkɒbˌwɛb/
a web spun by a spider to entrap its prey.
a single thread spun by a spider.
something resembling a cobweb; anything finespun, flimsy, or insubstantial.
a network of plot or intrigue; an insidious snare.
cobwebs, confusion, indistinctness, or lack of order:
I'm so tired my head is full of cobwebs.
verb (used with object), cobwebbed, cobwebbing.
to cover with or as with cobwebs:
Spiders cobwebbed the cellar.
to confuse or muddle:
Drunkenness cobwebbed his mind.
Origin of cobweb
1275-1325; Middle English coppeweb, derivative of Old English -coppe spider (in ātorcoppe poison spider); cognate with Middle Dutch koppe; see web Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cobwebs
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The place had long been given up to dust and cobwebs, to solitude and silence.

    Sketches New and Old, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • In a moment the cobwebs of his debauch began to fall from him, and he became alert.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • Bunches of sweet herbs hung from the rafters, but there were no cobwebs, because of Miss Hathaway's perfect housekeeping.

    Lavender and Old Lace Myrtle Reed
  • Otherwise, save for cobwebs, the room was bare and very relaxing.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • The tissue of misrepresentations attempted to be woven round us, are like cobwebs woven round the limbs of an infant giant.

  • In this respect it was like cobwebs: dogs nosing it on grass, were blindfolded with it.

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • It goes hard agin my old woman to hev all this here dust and cobwebs.

    Killykinick Mary T. Waggaman
British Dictionary definitions for cobwebs


plural noun
mustiness, confusion, or obscurity
(informal) stickiness of the eyelids experienced upon first awakening


a web spun by certain spiders, esp those of the family Theridiidae, often found in the corners of disused rooms
a single thread of such a web
something like a cobweb, as in its flimsiness or ability to trap
Derived Forms
cobwebbed, adjective
cobwebby, adjective
Word Origin
C14 cob, from coppe, from Old English (ātor)coppe spider; related to Middle Dutch koppe spider, Swedish (dialect) etterkoppa
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cobwebs



early 14c., coppewebbe; the first element is Old English -coppe, in atorcoppe "spider," literally "poison-head" (see attercop). Spelling with -b- is from 16c., perhaps from cob. Cob as a stand-alone for "a spider" was an old word nearly dead even in dialects when J.R.R. Tolkien used it in "The Hobbit" (1937).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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