chrys·​a·​lis | \ ˈkri-sə-ləs How to pronounce chrysalis (audio) \
plural chrysalides\ kri-​ˈsa-​lə-​ˌdēz How to pronounce chrysalis (audio) \ or chrysalises

Definition of chrysalis

1a : a pupa of a butterfly broadly : an insect pupa
b : the hardened outer protective layer of a pupa
2 : a protecting covering also : a sheltered state or stage of being or growth … a budding writer could not emerge from his chrysalis too soon. — William Du Bois

Illustration of chrysalis

Illustration of chrysalis

chrysalis 1

Examples of chrysalis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Viceroy butterflies winter-over in the caterpillar stage, while the white cabbage butterfly lives though winter in the form of a chrysalis. Jim Gilbert, Star Tribune, "Minnesota wildlife's approach to winter is a mix of strategies," 19 Nov. 2020 As each in turn emerged from the nursery chrysalis, he had been eagerly watched by an anxious father, an adoring elder sister, and a pair of tender and vigilant aunts; but not one had developed the least germ of artistic or intellectual feeling. Edith Wharton, The Atlantic, "A Granted Prayer," 9 Nov. 2020 About halfway through the plot, Orlando—born a man—falls into a deep sleep as into a chrysalis and emerges as a woman. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Nearly Three Decades Later, Sally Potter’s Orlando Is More Topical Than Ever," 2 Nov. 2020 Resnick said visitors should take time to see the pupa room, where hundreds of butterflies and moths are in their chrysalis or cocoon stage before emerging into adults. Sheryl Devore,, "Butterflies & Blooms offers respite at Chicago Botanic Garden," 18 Aug. 2020 In season 2, Joe attempted to hide his dark side and become a better person, like a butterfly going into a chrysalis to reform itself. Kaitlin Reilly,, "Our Only Real Clue To Season 3 Of You Is A Juicy One," 7 Feb. 2020 Eventually, these signals determine the identity and position of each wing scale, which develop colorless in the chrysalis at first before pigments get made. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian, "What butterflies’ Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution," 18 Nov. 2019 And did Hawley have to take his eloquent first-act chrysalis-and-butterfly motif and beat it into such a blunt metaphor?, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 10 Oct. 2019 Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, the story unfurls in surprising ways. oregonlive, "‘The Butterfly Girl’ offers hope for lives that seem hopelessly broken," 26 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chrysalis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chrysalis

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chrysalis

borrowed from Latin chrȳsallid-, chrȳsallis, borrowed from Greek chrȳsallid-, chrȳsallís, from chrȳsós "gold" (referring to the metallic gold-like sheen of some butterfly pupae) + -allid-, -allis, noun suffix of some plant and animal names — more at chryso-

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Time Traveler for chrysalis

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The first known use of chrysalis was in 1601

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Cite this Entry

“Chrysalis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for chrysalis



English Language Learners Definition of chrysalis

: a moth or butterfly at the stage of growth when it is turning into an adult and is enclosed in a hard case
: a hard case that protects a moth or butterfly while it is turning into an adult


chrys·​a·​lis | \ ˈkris-ə-ləs How to pronounce chrysalis (audio) \

Kids Definition of chrysalis

1 : a moth or butterfly pupa that is enclosed in a hardened protective case
2 : the hardened protective case made by and enclosing a moth or butterfly pupa

More from Merriam-Webster on chrysalis

Nglish: Translation of chrysalis for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about chrysalis

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