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See also: glow-worm


A glowworm (Lampyris noctiluca)
A New Zealand glowworm (Arachnocampa luminosa)

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English glouworm; equivalent to glow +‎ worm.


glowworm (plural glowworms)

  1. The larva or wingless grub-like female of a beetle from the families Phengodidae or Lampyridae that gives out a green light from its abdomen.
    • c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene v]:
      The glowworm shows the matin to be near
      And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
      Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me.
    • 1604, William Alexander, The Alexandraean Tragedie, Act V, Scene 2, in The Monarchicke Tragedies, London: Ed. Blount, 1607,[1]
      Some things afarre doe like the Glow-worme shine,
      That lookt to neere haue of that light no signe.
    • c. 1613, John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, London: John Waterson, 1623, Act IV, Scene 2,[2]
      Glories (like glowe-wormes) a farre off, shine bright,
      But look’d to neere, haue neither heate, nor light.
    • 1681, Andrew Marvell, “The Mower to the Glo-Worms” in Miscellaneous Poems, London: Robert Boulter, p. 44,[3]
      Ye Glo-worms, whose officious Flame
      To wandring Mowers shows the way,
      That in the Night have lost their aim,
      And after foolish Fires do stray;
    • 1819, William Wordsworth, “The Waggoner” Canto 1, in The Miscellaneous Poems of William Wordsworth, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1820, p. 7,[4]
      Confiding Glow-worms, ’tis a night
      Propitious to your earth-born light!
    • 1954, Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood, New York: New Directions, p. 1,[5]
      Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisles of the organplaying wood.
  2. (Australia, New Zealand) A carnivorous gnat larva in the keroplatid genus Arachnocampa that spins threads to capture insects attracted by its glow.


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