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termite

[tur-mahyt] /ˈtɜr maɪt/
noun
1.
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
1775-1785
1775-85; taken as singular of New Latin termites, plural of termes white ant, Latin tarmes wood-eating worm
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for termite

termite

/ˈtɜːmaɪt/
noun
1.
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
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Word Origin and History for termite
n.

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
termite
  (tûr'mīt')   
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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