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From Middle English magot, magotte, probably Anglo-Norman metathetic alteration of maddock (worm", "maggot), originally a diminutive form of a base represented by Old English maþa (Scots mathe), from Frankish *maþō, from common Proto-Germanic *maþô, from the Proto-Indo-European root *mat, which was used in insect names, equivalent to made +‎ -ock. Near-cognates include Dutch made, German Made and Swedish mask.

The use of maggot to mean a fanciful or whimsical thing derives from the folk belief that a whimsical or crotchety person had maggots in their brain.





maggot (plural maggots)

  1. A soft, legless larva of a fly or other dipterous insect, that often eats decomposing organic matter. [from 15th c.]
  2. (derogatory) A worthless person. [from 17th c.]
    Drop and give me fifty, maggot.
    • 1971, Richard Carpenter, Catweazle and the Magic Zodiac, Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, page 32:
      "Maggot!" said Catweazle angrily. "Sit thee down!"
  3. (now archaic, regional) A whimsy or fancy. [from 17th c.]
    • 1620, John Fletcher, Women Pleased, III.iv:
      Are you not mad, my friend? What time o' th' moon is't? / Have not you maggots in your brain?
    • 1778, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin, published 2001, page 100:
      ‘I am ashamed of him! how can he think of humouring you in such maggots!’
    • 1863, Sheridan Le Fanu, The House by the Churchyard:
      [] If you draw, Sir, there's one prospect up the river, by the mills—upon my conscience—but you don't draw?'
      No answer.
      'A little, Sir, maybe? Just for a maggot, I'll wager—like my good lady, Mrs. Toole.'
  4. (slang) A fan of the American metal band Slipknot.
    • 2004, “Pulse of the Maggots”, performed by Slipknot:
      (We) We are the new diabolic
      (We) We are the bitter bucolic
      If I have to give my life, you can have it
      (We) We are the pulse of the maggots


  • (soft legless larva): grub

Derived terms



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maggot (third-person singular simple present maggots, present participle maggoting, simple past and past participle maggoted)

  1. (transitive) To rid (an animal) of maggots.
    • 1950, Frederick Daniel Smith, Barbara Wilcox, Sold for Two Farthings, page 82:
      In the summer I had to get the sheep penned twice a day to maggot them and I needed a good dog.



maggot (comparative more maggot, superlative most maggot)

  1. (colloquial, Australia) Alternative form of maggoted (drunk; intoxicated)