1. Any of numerous arachnids of the order Araneae, having a body divided into a cephalothorax and an abdomen, eight legs, two chelicerae that bear venom glands, and two or more spinnerets that produce the silk used to make nests, cocoons, or webs for trapping insects.
2. One that resembles a spider, as in appearance, character, or movement.
3. A program that automatically retrieves webpages and follows the links on them to retrieve more webpages. Spiders are used by search engines to retrieve publicly accessible webpages for indexing, and they can also be used to check for links to webpages that no longer exist. Also called crawler, search bot.
4. New England, Upper Northern, & South Atlantic US See frying pan.
5. A trivet.
[Middle English spither, from Old English spīthra; see (s)pen- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.