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 These hairs can remain in the environment long after they've been shed from the insect's body. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, 11 June 2021 McElroy discovered that the gentle insect’s flash was the result of an enzymatic reaction with the compound ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, which was an essential component of the mating ritual. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, 10 June 2021 There is no insect that embodies the current zeitgeist like a bug emerging from isolation screaming about needing to get laid. Michelle Santiago Cortés, refinery29.com, 8 June 2021 Last year’s news that scientists had found the blue calamintha bee unexpectedly rocketed the insect to international celebrity status when many people were under COVID-19 lockdowns and spending more time outside. Natalie Van Hoose, sun-sentinel.com, 7 June 2021 With proper care, coyote mints are largely disease- and insect-free and rarely are eaten by deer, owing to their aromatic foliage. Earl Nickel, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 June 2021 Last year’s news that scientists had found the blue calamintha bee unexpectedly rocketed the insect to international celebrity status when many people were under COVID-19 lockdowns and spending more time outside. orlandosentinel.com, 5 June 2021 The robot then moves each insect into a plate with 96 tiny wells, readying these specimens for DNA sequencing. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, 4 June 2021 Potamophylax coronavirus is a caddisfly – a mothlike flying insect whose eggs and larvae thrive in rivers and lakes. Kiona N. Smith, Forbes, 31 May 2021

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

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insect. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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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