1. Any of several venomous spiders of the genus Latrodectus, the females of which have a black shiny body with red markings, often in the shape of an hourglass on the abdomen, and can inflict a dangerous bite.
2. A woman who kills her husband or lover, especially one who kills multiple husbands or lovers.
[From the fact that the female sometimes eats its mate.]
(click for a larger image)black widow
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.