: any of a group of small and often winged animals that are arthropods having six jointed legs and a body formed of a head, thorax, and abdomen <Flies, bees, and lice are true insects.>
: an animal (as a spider or a centipede) similar to the true insects Hint:This meaning is not scientifically accurate but may be encountered in common everyday use.
Word History of INSECT
The distinct parts into which insects’ bodies are divided—head, thorax, and abdomen—inspired the Greek name used for them by the philosopher Aristotle: entomon, the “notched” or “segmented” animal. (Entomon is a noun derived from the verb entemnein, “to cut up” or “to cut into.”) The Romans used insectum, a literal translation of Greek entomon, as their name for the creatures, and this Latin word has provided us with the ordinary English word for insects.