Denotation vs. Connotation

ladybird beetle

[ley-dee-burd] /ˌleɪ diˌbɜrd/
Also called ladybird.
Origin of ladybird beetle
1730-40, Americanism; lady (uninflected possessive case) Virgin Mary + bird; i.e. (our) Lady's bird


[ley-dee-buhg] /ˈleɪ diˌbʌg/
any of numerous small, round, often brightly colored and spotted beetles of the family Coccinellidae, feeding chiefly on aphids and other small insects, but including several forms that feed on plants.
Also called ladybeetle, lady beetle, ladybird beetle, ladybird.
1690-1700; lady + bug1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ladybird
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A Prussian ladybird rhyme also mentions the boat that sailed across heaven.

  • I don't suppose anything about it but what ladybird tells me.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • Miss Priscilla had effectually learned that to get any answer from her niece she must call her ladybird.

    The Staying Guest Carolyn Wells
  • Now, ladybird, never you stir from that fire till I come back!

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • She suggests that ladybird should come, because, she says, we will naturally want to keep our own niece ourselves.

    The Staying Guest Carolyn Wells
  • I know that the longer I keep you here, the greater hope there is for my ladybird.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • "What's forgiven should be forgotten, ladybird," he answered, tightening the arm that held her.

  • Our common name is ladybird, my own name is Alois, I am a poet by profession.

  • “Yes,” said Miss Priscilla, in a tone which seemed to ladybird almost solemn.

    The Staying Guest Carolyn Wells
British Dictionary definitions for ladybird


any of various small brightly coloured beetles of the family Coccinellidae, such as Adalia bipunctata (two-spotted ladybird), which has red elytra marked with black spots Usual US and Canadian name ladybug
Word Origin
C18: named after Our Lady, the Virgin Mary
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 ladybird

"sweetheart," 1590s, from lady + bird (n.2).



1690s, from lady + bug (n.). The "lady" is the Virgin Mary (cf. German cognate Marienkäfer). In Britain, now usually ladybird beetle (1704), through aversion to the word bug, which there has overtones of sodomy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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