an American spider (Latrodectus mactans), the female of which has a glossy black body with an hourglass-shaped red mark underneath, and a poisonous bite which is normally not fatal: so called because the female sometimes eats its mate
- 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.
- A woman who kills her husband or lover, especially one who kills multiple husbands or lovers.
Origin of black widowFrom the fact that the female sometimes eats its mate
(plural black widows)
- Any of several species of venomous spider, particularly Latrodectus sp.. The bite is painful to humans, rarely fatal to healthy individuals, but can be life-threatening or fatal to infants or young toddlers. Females are marked by a red hourglass shape on the abdomen (see photo, this page, and photos in Wikipedia). Mature males are smaller, of the same black color or a dark brown, have an elongated and slender abdomen (rather than the rotund abdomen of the mature female), and are marked on the dorsal of the abdomen with small flattened diamond shapes of the same scarlet color as the female's marks on the ventral of her abdomen.
- A woman who kills one or more of her lovers.
- A female martyr (a suicide bomber or shaheed), whose husband was killed.