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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus