insect

noun
in·​sect | \ ˈin-ˌsekt How to pronounce insect (audio) \

Definition of insect

1a : 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
b : any of numerous small invertebrate animals (such as spiders or centipedes) that are more or less obviously segmented not used technically
2 : a trivial or contemptible person

Illustration of insect

Illustration of insect

insect 1a: 1 labial palpus, 2 maxillary palpus, 3 simple eye, 4 antenna, 5 compound eye, 6 prothorax, 7 tympanum, 8 wing, 9 ovipositor, 10 spiracles, 11 abdomen, 12 metathorax, 13 mesothorax

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Other Words from insect

insect adjective

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.

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 on the Web

Every forest, every river, every ocean, every coastline, every insect, every wild animal. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Just Gave a Powerful Speech at This Year's WE Day," 6 Mar. 2019 His response to entering the twenty-first century as a man in his 60s was to go on a strict diet and emerge, thirteen months later, looking like an insect. Kennedy Fraser, Vogue, "From the Archives: Karl Lagerfeld, The Impresario," 19 Feb. 2019 Putting aside RoboFly, the group began working on a way to put a sensor on an insect. Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, "Backpack-wearing bumblebees could buzz fields, tell farmers how crops are doing," 13 Dec. 2018 Fill any holes—or cracks in your foundation or walls—to avoid having insects and rodents enter your home. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for Spring," 25 Feb. 2019 Time to convert your property to an insect-friendly island. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "The Staggering Worldwide Decline of Insects Is a Warning of Ecosystem Collapse," 13 Feb. 2019 This isn’t the first time that people have taken Apple to task for its animal and insect emoji errors. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Monterey Bay Aquarium takes Apple to task for its backward squid emoji," 5 Dec. 2018 Italian Stallion was closed for three days for cold and hot foods not being held at the proper temperature, an insect and rodent infestation, employees mishandling foods and unsanitary conditions. Todd Stewart, baltimoresun.com, "Lexington Market: Health Department closures since 2012," 13 July 2018 Now here is the trick to catch these insects feeding. Tom Maccubbin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Caterpillar invasion isn't end for healthy tree," 14 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of insect

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for insect

Latin insectum, from neuter of insectus, past participle of insecare to cut into, from in- + secare to cut — more at saw

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Statistics for insect

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insect

The first known use of insect was in 1601

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More Definitions for insect

insect

noun

English Language Learners Definition of insect

: 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

noun
in·​sect | \ ˈin-ˌsekt How to pronounce insect (audio) \

Kids Definition of insect

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.

insect

noun
in·​sect | \ ˈin-ˌsekt How to pronounce insect (audio) \

Medical Definition of insect

: any arthropod of the class Insecta

Other Words from insect

insect adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on insect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with insect

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for insect

Spanish Central: Translation of insect

Nglish: Translation of insect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of insect for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about insect

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