c.1500, from Middle English ampte (late 14c.), from Old English æmette "ant," from West Germanic *amaitjo (cf. Old High German ameiza, German Ameise) from a compound of bases *ai- "off, away" + *mai- "cut," from PIE *mai- "to cut" (cf. maim). Thus the insect's name is, etymologically, "the biter off."
As þycke as ameten crepeþ in an amete hulle [chronicle of Robert of Gloucester, 1297]Emmet survived into 20c. as an alternative form. White ant "termite" is from 1729. To have ants in one's pants "be nervous and fidgety" is from 1934, made current by a popular song; antsy embodies the same notion.
(Heb. nemalah, from a word meaning to creep, cut off, destroy), referred to in Prov. 6:6; 30:25, as distinguished for its prudent habits. Many ants in Palestine feed on animal substances, but others draw their nourishment partly or exclusively from vegetables. To the latter class belongs the ant to which Solomon refers. This ant gathers the seeds in the season of ripening, and stores them for future use; a habit that has been observed in ants in Texas, India, and Italy.