insect

noun
in·sect | \ˈin-ˌsekt \

Definition of insect 

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

b : 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

Illustration of insect

Illustration of insect

insect 1b: 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

Like many bats, the bat-eared fox eats insects, especially termites. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For the Fourth, bring out the (San Diego Zoo) babies!," 3 July 2018 Peshkin’s own research focuses on the water flea, Latin name Daphnia, an insect barely visible to the naked eye. Karen Weintraub, STAT, "An anti-aging researcher faces the loss of his inspiration: his 96-year-old father," 20 June 2018 An insect of indiscriminate taste had bitten her, and the aftermath was a left eye that was swollen shut and the size of a tennis ball. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Even with one bad eye, Alaska’s Barren Islands are a sight to behold," 13 June 2018 As these landscapes bent to humans' will, the birds followed suit, building their nests in hedgerows and eating croplands' insects and seeds. Tim Graham, National Geographic, "Around the World, Farmland Birds Are in Steep Decline," 1 June 2018 The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect, has decimated local ash trees over the past 5-8 years, and is making removal of these trees a necessity for area property owners, Monday, August 14, 2017. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "Mile-a-minute vine: What you need to know about the plant that can grow 6 inches a day," 22 May 2018 One is that their flowers, except for those of beets and chard, attract beneficial creatures to your garden that will eat pest insects. Pam Peirce, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bloom and doom in the biennial garden: Why you should harvest before spring," 2 Mar. 2018 Most North American bats eat insects and offer an excellent alternative to mosquito repellent, gobbling up over 1000+ mosquitoes per hour. Emily O'brien, Good Housekeeping, "5 Ways To Attract Bats To Your Yard," 20 Oct. 2016 Reducing ocean pollution and the use of insect-harming pesticides. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Australian Reptiles And a Toad Named After Gollum on Latest Endangered Species Update," 6 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 1a

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

10 Oct 2018

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 \

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 \

Medical Definition of insect 

: any arthropod of the class Insecta

Other Words from insect

insect adjective

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Comments on insect

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