woolly bear

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See also: woolly-bear


Banded woolly bear (Pyrrharctia isabella)

Alternative forms[edit]


woolly bear (plural woolly bears)

  1. (colloquial) A hairy caterpillar.
  2. Specifically, the larva of a moth of the family Arctiidae.
  3. (military slang, historical) An explosive shell that gives out dense smoke when it bursts.
    • 1929, Frederic Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune, Vintage 2014, p. 236:
      As Bourne came out, he could see shells exploding by the dump, with some shrapnel bursting, woolly-bears they called them, overhead.
    • 2000, Harold A Skaarup, Whiz Bangs and Woolly Bears, p. 12:
      ‘A Woolly Bear was used for demolition, and could be compared with our 5.9's. It burst on impact, made a big hole and left a tremendous cloud of black smoke.’