Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
See also: Cantharides


Camera icon.svg This entry needs a photograph or drawing for illustration. Please try to find a suitable image on Wikimedia Commons or upload one there yourself!


EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions. You can also discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.



cantharides pl (plural only)

  1. (entomology) Cantharides, a genus of coleopterous insects, formerly also taken to include aphids.
  2. Spanish fly, a vesicant extracted from the beetle Lytta vesicatoria (alternatively classified Cantharis vesicatoria), popularly held to have aphrodisiac properties.
    • 1926, Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist, Ch.26:
      I can make the most subtle sauces yield up their secret--whether it be white arsenic, rosalgar, mercury sublimate, or cantharides.
    • 1964, Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun:
      Speaking her name, it was as if he spake pure cantharides. ‘Quick,’ she panted. ‘There is time before they are all about. Again.’
    • 1992, Will Self, Cock and Bull:
      It’s lucky that Carol had taken the precaution of obtaining some cantharides; without them the evening might have been a dead loss.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 612:
      Basically Louis's drug dealer and pimp, Richelieu, known for opium recipes to fit all occasions, is also credited with the introduction into France of the cantharides, or Spanish fly.




  1. nominative plural of cantharis
  2. accusative plural of cantharis
  3. vocative plural of cantharis