noun in·sect \ˈin-ˌsekt\

: a small animal that has six legs and a body formed of three parts and that may have wings

: an animal (such as a spider) that is similar to an insect

Full Definition of INSECT

a :  any of numerous small invertebrate animals (as spiders or centipedes) that are more or less obviously segmented —not used technically
b :  any of a class (Insecta) of arthropods (as bugs or bees) with well-defined head, thorax, and abdomen, only three pairs of legs, and typically one or two pairs of wings
:  a trivial or contemptible person
insect adjective

Examples of INSECT

  1. a swarm of flying insects
  2. <the magazine's editor in chief was notorious for treating staffers as insects, often not even bothering to learn their names>

Illustration of INSECT

Origin of INSECT

Latin insectum, from neuter of insectus, past participle of insecare to cut into, from in- + secare to cut — more at saw
First Known Use: 1601
INSECTS Defined for Kids


noun in·sect \ˈin-ˌsekt\

Definition of INSECT for Kids

:  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.
Medical Dictionary


noun in·sect \ˈin-ˌsekt\

Medical Definition of INSECT

:  any arthropod of the class Insecta
insect adjective
July 06, 2015
categorical Hear it
absolute or relating to a category
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears