noun, plural ta·ran·tu·las, ta·ran·tu·lae [tuh–ran-chuh-lee] /təˈræn tʃəˌli/.
- any of several large, hairy spiders of the family Theraphosidae, as Aphonopelma chalcodes, of the southwestern U.S., having a painful but not highly venomous bite.
- any of various related spiders.
- a large wolf spider, Lycosa tarantula, of southern Europe, having a bite once thought to be the cause of tarantism.
noun plural -las or -lae (-ˌliː)
- any of various large hairy mostly tropical spiders of the American family Theraphosidae
- a large hairy spider, Lycosa tarentula of S Europe, the bite of which was formerly thought to cause tarantism
n.1560s, “wolf spider,” (Lycos tarantula), from Medieval Latin tarantula, from Italian tarantola, from Taranto “Taranto,” seaport city in southern Italy in the region where the spiders are frequently found, from Latin Tarentum, from Greek Taras (genitive Tarantos; perhaps from Illyrian darandos “oak”). Its bite is only slightly poisonous. Popularly applied to other great hairy spiders, especially the genus Mygale, native to the warmer regions of the Americas (first so called in 1794). n. pl. ta•ran•tu•las
- Any of various large, hairy, chiefly tropical spiders of the family Theraphosidae, capable of inflicting a painful but not seriously poisonous bite.