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

Deer, whose numbers are surging across the eastern U.S. due to a lack of natural predators, host insects that carry Lyme disease. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "This Land Is Their Land, Too," 12 Aug. 2019 Our party of five, all participants of the Edible Country initiative, couldn’t let a few stinging insects derail our lunch plans. Andrea Sachs, chicagotribune.com, "Forest to table: An invitation to a DIY dining adventure in Sweden," 12 Aug. 2019 The lowlight of Ree’s weekend was being stung by an insect on her right cheek while on her way to tee off on No. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Women's golf is a hard way to make a living, but for this Symetra Tour winner, it's worth a shot.," 11 Aug. 2019 Wheatears are now gobbling insects in the rocky hills above Wales in Western Alaska. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s northern wheatears are about to embark on a remarkable journey," 10 Aug. 2019 As such, the CDC recommends wearing bug spray when spending time outside, and treating outdoor gear with insect-repelling permethrin. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Mosquito-Borne West Nile Virus Soared in 2018, According to CDC Data," 9 Aug. 2019 However, these gargantuan insects can still deliver a powerful bite or fling their hairs as a defense mechanism. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Mass tarantula migration expected to crawl through Colorado starting this month," 8 Aug. 2019 Now, C4ISRNet writes, government researchers are trying to unlock the insect’s ancient secrets. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Could a Dragonfly’s Killer Instinct Be Adapted for Military Missiles?," 6 Aug. 2019 The study suggests honeydew could be another way beneficial insects are exposed to deadly insecticides. Katie Camero, Science | AAAS, "This tiny insect could be delivering toxic pesticides to honey bees and other beneficial bugs," 5 Aug. 2019

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

15 Aug 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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