deathwatch

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n deathwatch bores through wood making a ticking sound popularly thought to presage death
    • n deathwatch minute wingless psocopterous insects injurious to books and papers
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Deathwatch (Zoöl) A small beetle (Anobium tessellatum and other allied species). By forcibly striking its head against woodwork it makes a ticking sound, which is a call of the sexes to each other, but has been imagined by superstitious people to presage death.
    • Deathwatch (Zoöl) A small wingless insect, of the family Psocidæ, which makes a similar but fainter sound; -- called also deathtick.
    • Deathwatch The guard set over a criminal before his execution.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n deathwatch A vigil beside a dying person.
    • n deathwatch A guard set over a condemned criminal for some time prior to his execution.
    • n deathwatch The popular name of several small beetles which make a ticking or clicking sound, supposed by superstitious persons to be ominous of death Some species of the genus Anobium, or serricorn beetles, of the family Ptinidæ, as A. domesticum, A. tessellatum, and A. striatum. These insects abound in old houses, where they get into the wood by boring, and make a clicking sound by standing up on their hind legs and knocking their heads against the wood quickly and forcibly several times in succession, the number of distinct strokes being in general from seven to eleven. This is the call of the sexes.
    • n deathwatch A minute, wingless, pseudoneuropterous insect, Atropos pulsatorius, of the family Psocidæ, a great pest in botanical and entomological collections. It also makes a ticking sound.
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Usage

In literature:

He would say that that is the tapping of a deathwatch.
"The Lock And Key Library" by Various
In the wainscot of the room a deathwatch ticked its doleful omen.
"The Golden Dog" by William Kirby
She knew dem dogs hadn't howled for nothing, nor them deathwatches ticked in the wall.
"Bad Hugh" by Mary Jane Holmes
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In news:

Tiger Woods' sponsorship deathwatch .
Prophet recently conducted a spot survey of some 5,000 US consumers to see which brands they'd put on the deathwatch for anytime between now and 2015.
An infestation of deathwatch beetle.
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