a) A black or brown straight-winged insect of the order Blattodea, with about 3,500 species divided into six families. Only a few of these take up residence with human beings. Among these are Periplaneta americana (American cockroach or palmetto bug); Blattella germanica (German cockroach or Croton bug); and Blattella asahinai (Asian cockroach).
b) Disparaging term for individuals or groups of people regarded as dirty, or who breed like cockroaches.

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  • Cockroach — Cock roach, n. [Sp. cucaracha.] (Zo[ o]l.) An orthopterous insect of the genus {Blatta}, and allied genera. [1913 Webster] Note: The species are numerous, especially in hot countries. Those most commonly infesting houses in Europe and North… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cockroach — [käk′rōch΄] n. [Sp cucaracha, wood louse, cockroach, altered by assoc. with COCK1 + ROACH1] any of an order (Blattaria) of insects with long antennae and a flat, soft body: some species are common household pests …   English World dictionary

  • cockroach — 1620s, folk etymology (as if from cock + roach) of Sp. cucaracha chafer, beetle, from cuca kind of caterpillar. Folk etymology also holds that the first element is from caca excrement. A certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cockroach — ► NOUN ▪ a beetle like scavenging insect with long antennae and legs, some kinds of which are household pests. ORIGIN Spanish cucaracha …   English terms dictionary

  • Cockroach — For other uses, see Cockroach (disambiguation). Cockroach Common household roaches A) German cockroach B) American cockroach C) Australian cockroach D E) Oriental cockroach (♀ & …   Wikipedia

  • cockroach — /kok rohch /, n. any of numerous orthopterous insects of the family Blattidae, characterized by a flattened body, rapid movements, and nocturnal habits and including several common household pests. Also called roach. Cf. American cockroach,… …   Universalium

  • cockroach — cock·roach (kŏk’rōch′) n. ▸ Any of numerous insects of the order or suborder Blattaria, having oval flat bodies and laying eggs in hardened cases, and including several species that are common household pests. ╂ [By folk etymology from obsolete… …   Word Histories

  • cockroach — noun Etymology: by folk etymology from Spanish cucaracha cockroach Date: 1623 any of an order or suborder (Blattodea syn. Blattaria) of chiefly nocturnal insects including some that are domestic pests compare German cockroach …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cockroach — [17] Cockroach is a product of folk etymology, the process by which a ‘foreign’ – sounding is adapted by speakers of a language so as to seem more familiar. In this case the foreign word was Spanish cucaracha. This was evidently too much for 17th …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • cockroach — UK [ˈkɒkrəʊtʃ] / US [ˈkɑkˌroʊtʃ] noun [countable] Word forms cockroach : singular cockroach plural cockroaches an insect similar to a large beetle that lives in places where food is kept …   English dictionary

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