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A boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis), a weevil (sense 2) that feeds on cotton buds and flowers


From Middle English wevel, from Old English wifel (beetle), from Proto-West Germanic *wibil, from Proto-Germanic *wibilaz, from Proto-Indo-European *webʰel-, from *(h₁)webʰ- (to wave, to weave), said to be from the woven appearance of a weevil’s larval case,[1] + *-el-, *-l̥- (diminutive or attributive suffix); see also wave and weave.

Compare Old Saxon *wivil (beetle); Middle Low German wevel; Old High German wibil, wipil (modern German Wiebel (beetle; chafer)); Lithuanian vãbalas (beetle; weevil); Old Norse vifill, as in tordyfill (dung beetle, scarab) (whence Dutch tortwevel; Icelandic tordýfill, Norwegian tordivel, Old English tordwifel, Swedish tordyvel); dialectal Russian ве́блица (véblica, intestinal worm).



weevil (plural weevils)

  1. Any of several small herbivorous beetles in the superfamily Curculionoidea, many having a distinctive snout.
  2. Any of several small herbivorous beetles in the family Curculionidae belonging to the superfamily Curculionoidea.
  3. Any of several similar but more distantly related beetles such as the biscuit weevil (Stegobium paniceum).
  4. (figuratively, derogatory) A loathsome person.
    • 1950, Jack Lindsay, Fires in Smithfield. A Novel of Mary Tudor’s Reign, London: The Bodley Head, OCLC 560679576, page 201:
      But you accuse other men of villainy with too easy a tongue, you weevil. I have never wanted you in this matter, and I have said so.


Derived terms[edit]


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  1. ^ weevil, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1926.