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 Using just her own microscope, Gonzalez identified dozens of insect species by looking at features like tiny hairs or the shape of a fly’s wings. Eric Niiler, Wired, "Stuck at Home, Scientists Discover 9 New Insect Species," 22 June 2020 That could be due to pesticides, parasites, competition with other insect species, climate change, plant loss and a mismatch between the plants available and those that bee species enjoy. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "With bees in short supply, soap bubbles could assist with pollination, study finds," 17 June 2020 Anthropologist usually think of clothes as a cold-weather invention, but Langley and her colleagues say that some kinds of clothing could also have helped protect people from insect-borne diseases in the tropics. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "South Asia now has the oldest evidence of bows and arrows outside Africa," 12 June 2020 Thomas’s limbs jerked like a wounded insect’s under the guy, who held him down with both hands. Andrew Martin, The Atlantic, "Deep Cut," 12 June 2020 Check out the granular soil insect treatments at area nurseries. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "Calvin Finch: Your summer lawn care guide," 11 June 2020 The main reason for this is that bats in Oregon are nocturnal and eat insect species that are active at night. oregonlive, "Does welcoming bats to yard reduce food for wild birds? Ask an expert," 6 June 2020 Douglas Main says the sightings have been confined to a relatively small area in the northwest corner of the state, and that there’s a chance to stop the insect’s spread. Steve Winter, National Geographic, "Everyone can watch the birds," 4 June 2020 The good spiders mostly won’t bite and are not venomous ― black jumping spiders, argiopes, wolf spiders, crab spiders, orb weavers and even tarantulas won’t hurt anybody and provide some help controlling insect pests. Howard Garrett, Dallas News, "How to identify the good and bad spiders in your house and garden," 2 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for insect

Time Traveler

The first known use of insect was in 1601

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Statistics for insect

Last Updated

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Insect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insect. Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for insect

insect

noun
How to pronounce insect (audio)

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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Comments on insect

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