Definition of insect
1a : any of numerous small invertebrate animals (such as spiders or centipedes) that are more or less obviously segmented —not used technicallyb : any of a class (Insecta) of arthropods (such as bugs or bees) with well-defined head, thorax, and abdomen, only three pairs of legs, and typically one or two pairs of wings
2 : a trivial or contemptible person
Examples of insect in a Sentence
a swarm of flying insects
the magazine's editor in chief was notorious for treating staffers as insects, often not even bothering to learn their names
Recent Examples of insect from the Web
The other half of the insects nearly all had yellow bodies, but did not have fluorescent eyes.
Under the injunction, the prison agency also must install screens on windows in housing areas to keep out insects and develop a heat wave policy for the Pack Unit, which was built in 1983.
UC San Diego scientists Ethan Bier and Valentino Gantz were the first to demonstrate a working gene drive system in insects, using fruit flies.
That foggy day on the Battenkill River, insects were scarce.
And all five mass extinctions killed off not just charismatic megafauna—the equivalents of lions and elephants—but hardy, ubiquitous species like insects and plants.
Last November, Health Canada proposed a phaseout of imidacloprid, based on risks to aquatic insects, but has delayed a decision until next year.
Between 1 and 3 percent of the country’s adult population — up to 7.4 million people — may have systemic reactions to insect stings, and a smaller proportion have life-threatening responses, experts say.
All preserved in digital amber, like the insect from Jurassic Park.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'insect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
The bodies of insects have segments, or divisions, so they appear to have a series of notches cut into them. This led the Greek philosopher Aristotle to give insects the name entomon “a thing cut into.” Entomon comes from the prefix en- “in,” combined with the verb temnein “to cut.” Later, when the Romans wanted a word for this kind of creature, they did not simply borrow the Greek word. Instead they translated it with the Latin word insectum, from the verb insecare “to cut into.” Insectum was borrowed into English as insect.
INSECT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of insect for English Language Learners
: 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
INSECT Defined for Kids
Definition of insect for Students
1 : 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.
2 : 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.
History for 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 Definition of insect
: any arthropod of the class Insecta
Learn More about insect
Seen and Heard
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