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 In nature, a chrysalis typically contains the makings of just one new butterfly. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Apr. 2022 One late summer day, a monarch butterfly crawled from its chrysalis in a suburban Maryland garden, stretched open two orange wings to dry in the sun and took flight. Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2022 Now, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to peek inside of a butterfly's chrysalis and record in real-time how these scales develop from start to finish, reports Hannah Seo for Popular Science. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Dec. 2021 For the first time ever, MIT researchers peered into a chrysalis while the colorful scales on a butterfly wing formed—and captured continuous images of the process, according to a study published this month in the journal PNAS. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Dec. 2021 For curious children, the thrills of wandering among the show’s blossoms and greenery include seeing these free-flying international travelers alight on an outstretched hand or emerge from a chrysalis. New York Times, 25 Nov. 2021 Students in dark suits, who had spent the summer in the corporate chrysalis of banks and consulting firms, rushed ahead. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 This is the best time also to witness butterflies emerging from their chrysalis. Jim Dobson, Forbes, 22 Oct. 2021 Townsend said the critters arrive at the zoo in their chrysalis. Megan Rodriguez, San Antonio Express-News, 20 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of chrysalis was in 1601

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Chrysalis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for chrysalis


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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