EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English copweb, coppeweb, equivalent to cop (spider) +‎ web. Compare Middle Dutch kopwebbe, German Low German Kobbenwebbe (Westphalian).

PronunciationEdit

  • IPA(key): /ˈkɒbwɛb/
  • Hyphenation: cob‧web
  • (file)

NounEdit

 
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cobweb (plural cobwebs)

  1. A spiderweb, or the remains of one, especially an asymmetrical one that is woven with an irregular pattern of threads.
    • 1865, Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, Chapter X. "Provincetown", page 200.
      [] there was stretched across his gateway a circular cobweb of the largest kind and quite entire. This looked so ominous that I actually turned aside and went in the back way.
    • 1907, Barbara Baynton, Sally Krimmer; Alan Lawson, editors, Human Toll (Portable Australian Authors: Barbara Baynton), St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, published 1980, page 286:
      A cobweb, night-spun, hung in an insidious circle from branch to branch, facing her. Early as it was, its first victim struggled in its gummy meshes.
  2. One of its filaments; gossamer.
  3. (figuratively) Something thin and unsubstantial, or flimsy and worthless; valueless remainder.
    • c. 1579, Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesy
      The dust and cobwebs of that uncivil age.
    • 2018 February 10, Phil McNulty, “Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 0 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      Once the cobwebs of a lack-lustre first half were blown away, Spurs were irresistible and Arsenal were simply unable to cope with the power of Mousa Dembele in midfield and the creation and running of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli - combined with the inevitable goalscoring prowess of Kane.
  4. An intricate plot to catch the unwary.
  5. (Internet slang, rare) A web page that either has not been updated for a long time, or that is rarely visited.
  6. The European spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata.
  7. (informal, usually in the plural) fuzzy inexact memories.
    • 2008 Burlan Eugene Ellison The Ebony Coffin: A Jim Kirkwood Novel page 98
      I washed my face, trying to get the cobwebs of hard sex and an alcohol-induced sleep out of my head
    • 2012 Stanley M. Bierman Napoleon's Penis: Plus Other Engaging and Outrageous Tales page 16
      Veyz mir, meaning something like “Oh . . . my!,” was a Yiddish expression that I had not employed for a long, long time. Yet in the cobwebs of my memory, that expression was still lurking inside. How interesting!

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