From Middle English spiþre, spydyr, spider, spiþer, from Old English spīþra (spider), from Proto-West Germanic *spinþrō, from Proto-Germanic *spinnaną (to spin). Mostly displaced attercop (spider, unpleasant person), now a dialectal term.

a spider
spider of a bicycle crank arm (on the right)



spider (countable and uncountable, plural spiders)

  1. Any of various eight-legged, predatory arthropods, of the order Araneae, most of which spin webs to catch prey.
  2. (Internet) A program which follows links on the World Wide Web in order to gather information.
  3. (chiefly Australia and New Zealand) A float (drink) made by mixing ice-cream and a soda or fizzy drink (such as lemonade).
    • 2002, Katharine Gasparini, Cranberry and vanilla ice cream spider, recipe in Cool Food, page 339.
  4. (Australia, New Zealand, obsolete) An alcoholic drink made with brandy and lemonade or ginger beer.
  5. (slang) A spindly person.
  6. (slang) A man who persistently approaches or accosts a woman in a public social setting, particularly in a bar.
  7. (snooker, billiards) A stick with a convex arch-shaped notched head used to support the cue when the cue ball is out of reach at normal extension; a bridge.
  8. (cooking, US, Britain, chiefly historical and now dialectal) A cast-iron frying pan with three legs, once common in open-hearth cookery.
    • 1846, Mary Hooker Cornelius, The Young Housekeeper's Friend, page 146, recipe 28 “To fry salt pork”:
      Cut slices and lay them in cold water in the spider; boil them up two or three minutes, then pour off the water and set the spider again on the coals and brown the slices on each side.
    • 2005, Marty Davidson, Grandma Grace's Southern Favorites, recipe for “strawberry coconuts”, Rutledge Hill Press, →ISBN, page 193:
      In spider pan or deep skillet set over hot coals, quickly fry a few at a time in deep lard until brown.
    • 2008, Corona Club (San Francisco, California), Corona Club Cook Book, page 202,
      Melt ½ the dry sugar in the spider, stirring with knife until all is melted.
  9. (cooking) Implement for moving food in and out of hot oil for deep frying, with a circular metal mesh attached to a long handle; a spider skimmer
    • 1996, City and Guilds of London Institute, Food preparation and cooking. Cookery units. Student guide., Stanley Thornes, →ISBN, unit 2ND5, element 2, page 157:
      If you are deep-frying your falafel, use a spider or basket to place them gently into the hot oil, which should be preheated to a temperature of 175°C (330°F).
    • 2008, Anna Kasabian and David Kasabian, The Wild Fish Cookbook, Creative Publishing International, →ISBN, page 84:
      Consider investing in a frying basket or a spider for small amounts of fish. A spider looks like a metal web and has a long handle and can lower and raise fish from the hot oil.
  10. (cycling) A part of a crank, to which the chainrings are attached.
  11. (slang, uncountable) Heroin.
  12. (music) Part of a resonator instrument that transmits string vibrations from the bridge to a resonator cone at multiple points.
  13. A skeleton or frame with radiating arms or members, often connected by crosspieces, such as a casting forming the hub and spokes to which the rim of a fly wheel or large gear is bolted; the body of a piston head; or a frame for strengthening a core or mould for a casting.
  14. (fly fishing, England) a soft-hackle fly
  15. (sports) The network of wires separating the areas of a dartboard
  16. (mathematics) A spider graph or spider tree
  17. (obsolete) A type of light phaeton.
    • 1901 July 19, “To Australia and Back”, in The Agricultural Journal and Mining Record[1], volume 4, number 10, page 298:
      I am also disappointed with the horses, having hardly seen a decent pair yet, while the traps and horses do not look smart and well groomed. There are a great many American spiders used. Have not seen a bullock in the yoke yet.
  18. (film) A support for a camera tripod, preventing it from sliding.
    • 1927, H. Mario Raimondo Souto, The Technique of the Motion Picture Camera (page 64)
      The spider is very useful for shooting in the studio or on locations with smooth floors where tripod legs tend to slide.


  • (arthropod of the order Araneae): attercop (obsolete except in dialects); cop (obsolete)

Derived termsEdit



spider (third-person singular simple present spiders, present participle spidering, simple past and past participle spidered)

  1. To move like a spider.
    • 2001, Life Books, Life: The Greatest Adventures of All Time, Time Home Entertainment Incorporated →ISBN
      A year later she returned to El Cap and spidered up the wall again — this time in 23 hours.
    • 2009, Michael Crummey, Galore: A novel, Doubleday Canada →ISBN
      They saved the hall though the facing and part of the roof had to be torn out and replaced, men spidered over the building to repair it before Coaker's arrival.
    • 2012, David Gross, Lord of Stormweather: Sembia: Gateway to the Realms, Wizards of the Coast →ISBN
      Briefly he considered letting go to glide along in Radu's wake as the assassin spidered up the wall.
  2. To cover a surface like a cobweb.
    • 2011, Jenna Burtenshaw, Wintercraft: Blackwatch, Hachette UK →ISBN
      High walls surrounded it on all sides, each one covered with the skeletal stems of climbing plants that spidered across the stones, and the ground was cobbled between patches of frozen grass.
    • 2011, MJ Ware, Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb, MJA Ware →ISBN
      Large cracks spidered across the mask's glass where the nozzle had hit.
    • 2013, Mary Gentle, Rats and Gargoyles, Hachette UK →ISBN
      Moss spidered across the stone, fresh green. Seaweed sprouted bright yellows and ochres between the vast webs of fingers.
  3. (Internet, of a computer program) To follow links on the World Wide Web in order to gather information.
    The online dictionary is regularly spidered by search engines.

Derived termsEdit

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From English spider.


spider m (invariable)

  1. (computing) spider (Internet software)


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of spiþre