An insect of the genus Termes, which originally included all termites but is now restricted to a small number of tropical species; (in form Termes) the genus itself.
Instances of the regular plural termites are not clearly distinct from the plural of "termite", and are treated at that entry.
Late 18th century. From scientific Latin Termes, genus name (LinnaeusSystema naturae (ed. 10, 1758) 609) from post-classical Latin termes (plural termites) woodworm, maggot, variant (probably influenced by terere see below) of classical Latin tarmes from the base of terere to rub + the base of -mus, suffix forming nouns and adjectives.