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

Keep scrolling for more

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 And while people are noticing fewer song birds and almost no swallows (not to mention geese) because of the apparent drop in insect populations, this summer, area lilacs and honeysuckle kept their blooms much longer than normal. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2021 Scientists are also concerned that insect populations are declining because of habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and other factors, which would make pollination robots even more important. Mike Cherney, WSJ, 7 July 2021 More eggs would be laid the farther north the bird was nesting, all because greater insect populations in those locations offer more food. Jim Williams, Star Tribune, 29 June 2021 Challender says pangolins play a vital role in their environment, by controlling insect populations and with their burrows providing shelter for creatures including bats, snakes and mongoose. Nadia Leigh-hewitson, CNN, 15 June 2021 Moreover, some experts say that Oxitec’s technology has a smaller ecological footprint than spraying pesticides, which can harm beneficial insect populations. Time, 9 May 2021 Many insect populations are plunging, threatening human well-being, but wasps seem to be more resilient. Damian Carrington, Wired, 8 May 2021 Rapidly declining insect populations triggering end of mankind? Julia Musto, Fox News, 7 May 2021 The world is facing an enormous biodiversity crisis, which includes an apparent decline in insect populations. Ellie Shechet, Popular Science, 15 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About insect

Dictionary Entries Near insect

in seclusion

insect

insectary

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for insect

Last Updated

20 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insect. Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on insect

Nglish: Translation of insect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of insect for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about insect

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!