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[tur-mahyt] /ˈtɜr maɪt/
any of numerous pale-colored, soft-bodied, chiefly tropical social insects, of the order Isoptera, that feed on wood, some being highly destructive to buildings, furniture, etc.
Also called white ant.
Origin of termite
1775-85; taken as singular of New Latin termites, plural of termes white ant, Latin tarmes wood-eating worm Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for termite
  • The lion approached the herd of gazelles slowly while hidden by a large termite mound.
  • If the termite was this dim it would be extinct by now.
  • The termite's stomach, of all things, has become the focus of large-scale scientific investigations.
  • The view from a car window reveals plantations of hairy eucalyptus trees and cow pastures rife with termite mounds.
  • Sure its cool to jar us up for study but if a mall needs to be built, what's a termite mound but nuisance.
  • The animals use their keen sense of smell to find anthills and termite mounds.
  • The animals use their keen sense of smell to detect termite mounds and anthills and tear them open with strong claws.
  • He ran so fast that within a fraction of second he sat on a termite mound.
  • When the rains came, water trickled through the termite holes into the ground.
  • But many termite entry points are hidden, and hundreds of gallons of pesticide must be applied.
British Dictionary definitions for termite


any whitish ant-like social insect of the order Isoptera, of warm and tropical regions. Some species feed on wood, causing damage to furniture, buildings, trees, etc Also called white ant
Derived Forms
termitic (tɜːˈmɪtɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C18: from New Latin termitēs white ants, pl of termes, from Latin: a woodworm; related to Greek tetrainein to bore through
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 termite

1849, back-formation from plural form termites (1781), from Modern Latin termites (three syllables), plural of termes (genitive termitis), a special use of Late Latin termes "woodworm, white ant," altered (by influence of Latin terere "to rub, wear, erode") from earlier Latin tarmes. Their nest is a terminarium (1863).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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termite in Science
Any of various pale-colored insects of the order Isoptera that live in large colonies and feed on wood. Termites resemble ants in their appearance, manner of living, and social organization, but are not closely related. Termites can be very destructive to wooden buildings and structures. Also called isopteran.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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