chrys·​a·​lis ˈkri-sə-ləs How to pronounce chrysalis (audio)
plural chrysalides kri-ˈsa-lə-ˌdēz How to pronounce chrysalis (audio) or chrysalises
: a pupa of a butterfly
broadly : an insect pupa
: the hardened outer protective layer of a pupa
: 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 Its iridescent casting mold looks almost like a chrysalis awaiting the emergence of a monumental butterfly. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2023 In addition, caterpillars of azure and swallowtail butterflies move off their host plants during the autumn, in search of upright stalks to keep their chrysalises off the ground. Tovah Martin, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2023 Life is blooming everywhere on the Nashville-area farm where singer-songwriter Jason Isbell resides with his wife, the musician Amanda Shires, and their daughter Mercy: a garden of Monarch chrysalises about to hatch, a couple of fresh baby chicks, vegetables climbing their trellises. Marissa R. Moss, Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct. 2023 One body slightly raised up for a moment, appearing to emerge like a moth from its hardened chrysalis. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, 28 July 2023 In recent years, the rigid chrysalis of the Middle Eastern military balance has started to crack. Kenneth M. Pollack, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 While the children beat ladles on pots as percussion, Lubo capers around in a bear suit, before emerging like a butterfly from a chrysalis, in a floaty peach dress, playing a strange gypsy-music tune on his harmonica. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 7 Sep. 2023 In recent years, the rigid chrysalis of the Middle Eastern military balance has started to crack, releasing a swarm of twenty-first-century Furies that threaten to remake the region’s landscape. Kenneth M. Pollack, Foreign Affairs, 19 Apr. 2022 But Wise thinks butterflies are a better example of how nature deviates from our Western norms because of their many transformations, from caterpillar to a kind of goo inside a chrysalis to butterfly. Jeanette Marantos, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chrysalis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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-

First Known Use

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of chrysalis was in 1601

Dictionary Entries Near chrysalis

Cite this Entry

“Chrysalis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


chrys·​a·​lis ˈkris-ə-ləs How to pronounce chrysalis (audio)
plural chrysalides kris-ˈal-ə-ˌdēz How to pronounce chrysalis (audio) or chrysalises
: the pupa of a butterfly or moth
also : the hardened outer layer of such a pupa compare cocoon sense 1

More from Merriam-Webster on chrysalis

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