any of various insects of the order Dermaptera, esp Forficula auricularia (common European earwig), which typically have an elongated body with small leathery forewings, semicircular membranous hindwings, and curved forceps at the tip of the abdomen
verb -wigs, -wigging, -wigged
(informal) to eavesdrop
(transitive) (archaic) to attempt to influence (a person) by private insinuation
Old English ēarwicga, from ēareear1 + wicga beetle, insect; probably from a superstition that the insect crept into human ears
(Forficula auricularia), Old English earwicga, from eare (see ear (n.1)) + wicga "beetle, worm," probably related to wiggle. So called from the ancient and widespread (but false) belief that the garden pest went into people's ears. Cf. French perce-oreille, German ohr-wurm.