death watch beetle


[deth-woch, -wawch]
a vigil beside a dying or dead person.
a guard set over a condemned person before execution.
Also called deathwatch beetle. any of several beetles of the family Anobiidae that make a ticking sound as they bore through wood: the sound was once believed to be an omen of death.

1660–70; death + watch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
deathwatch (ˈdɛθˌwɒtʃ)
1.  a vigil held beside a dying or dead person
2.  deathwatch beetle See also anobiid a beetle, Xestobium rufovillosum, whose woodboring larvae are a serious pest. The adult produces a rapid tapping sound with its head that was once popularly supposed to presage death

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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