AskDefine | Define maggot

Dictionary Definition

maggot n : the larva of the housefly and blowfly commonly found in decaying organic matter

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English magot, magotte, probably an Anglo-Norman alteration of maddock, originally a diminutive form of a base represented by Old English maþa (Scots mathe), from common Germanic root *mathon-, from the Proto-Indo-European root *math-, which was used in insect names. Near-cognates include Dutch made, German Made and Swedish mask. The use of maggot to mean a fanciful or whimsical thing derives from the folk belief that a whimsical or crotchety person had maggots in his or her brain.
Are you not mad, my friend? What time o' th' moon is't? Have not you maggots in your brain? — John Fletcher, Women Pleased (1620), III.iv.


  • /ˈmægət/
  • SAMPA || /"m

Extensive Definition

A maggot is the common name of the larval phase of development in insects of the order Diptera (flies). Sometimes the word is used to denote the larval stage of any insect.


Maggot therapy

The use of maggots as a form of field improvised debridement has been documented since at least the American Civil War and is currently taught to US Army Special Forces medics. In controlled and sterile settings, maggot therapy (also known as Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT), larval therapy, larva therapy, or larvae therapy) introduces live, disinfected maggots or fly larvae into non-healing skin or soft tissue wounds of a human or other animal.


As with fleas and ticks, maggots can be a threat to household pets. Flies reproduce rapidly in the summer months and maggots can come in large numbers, creating a maggot infestation and a high risk of myiasis in pets. Humans are not immune to the feeding habits of maggots and can also contract myiasis. Interaction between humans and maggots usually occurs near garbage cans, dead animals, rotten food, and other breeding grounds for maggots. It may take 8–20 hours for maggots to grow.
A major problem also arises when maggots turn into flies and start the life cycle over again. Within a few generations the number of maggots exponentially grows and becomes a serious problem. Professionals can remove maggots or many over the counter bug sprays can be used to deter flies and maggots. Keeping trash in a sealed container and using a garbage disposal or freezing rotting leftovers until rubbish collection day helps prevent infestation.

Parasitic Maggots

While most maggots only eat necrotic tissue in living animals and are thus arguably symbiotic, certain types of maggots are parasitic, such as Botfly larvae. These larvae spend part of their life cycle as parasites under the skin of living animals. As a result myiasis can occur in the host causing symptoms from sores and irritating lesions to death. This is particularly a problem in warm and damp climates where flies multiply more rapidly.


External links

maggot in German: Made
maggot in French: Asticot
maggot in Indonesian: Belatung
maggot in Hebrew: רימה
maggot in Dutch: Made (larf)
maggot in Japanese: 蛆
maggot in Polish: Czerw
maggot in Sundanese: Bilatung
maggot in Vietnamese: Giòi

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alabaster, apparition, arachnid, arthropod, aurelia, bee, beetle, boutade, brainchild, brainstorm, bubble, bug, capriccio, caprice, caterpillar, centipede, chalk, chilopod, chimera, chrysalis, cocoon, conceit, crank, craze, crazy idea, crotchet, daddy longlegs, delirium, diplopod, driven snow, eidolon, fad, fancy, fantasque, fantastic notion, fantasy, fiction, figment, fleece, flimflam, flour, fly, foam, fool notion, freak, freakish inspiration, grub, hallucination, harebrained idea, harvestman, hexapod, humor, idle fancy, illusion, imagery, imagination, imagining, insect, insubstantial image, invention, ivory, kink, larva, lily, make-believe, megrim, milk, millepede, millipede, mite, myth, notion, nymph, nympha, paper, passing fancy, pearl, phantasm, phantom, pupa, quirk, romance, scorpion, sheet, sick fancy, silver, snow, spider, swan, tarantula, thick-coming fancies, tick, toy, trip, vagary, vapor, vision, whim, whim-wham, whimsy, wiggler, wildest dreams, wriggler
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