: the immature, wingless, and often wormlike feeding form that hatches from the egg of many insects, alters chiefly in size while passing through several molts, and is finally transformed into a pupa or chrysalis (see chrysalissense 1a) from which the adult emerges
: the early form of an animal (such as a frog or sea urchin) that at birth or hatching is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose before assuming the adult characters
The larva of a butterfly is called a caterpillar.
the larva looked ugly, but it was destined to hatch into a beautiful butterfly
Recent Examples on the WebIn his metaphor, the larva represented the data that had gone into training modern neural nets; the dragonfly stood for the agile A.I. that had been created from it.—Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 In 60 percent of those nests not a single larva survived, most commonly because of whole-clutch cannibalism: the male had gobbled up hundreds of eggs.—Carolyn Wilke, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2023 The parasite, a larva of the Ophidascaris robertsi species, had not previously been reported inside a human brain.—Daniel Wu, Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2023 Truman and his team wanted to know, in great anatomical detail, how much of the brain of a larva persists in that of an adult fly.—Rivka Galchen, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2023 The creature was the larva of an Australian native roundworm not previously known to be a human parasite, named Ophidascaris robertsi.—Rod McGuirk, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2023 The hope here is that oyster larva will catch hold of the hard limestone rock and grow reefs there once again.—Ike Morgan | Imorgan@al.com, al, 15 Aug. 2023 But there hadn’t been enough time for the medusa in the bowl of seawater to spawn, grow into a larva, and end up a polyp over the weekend.—Juli Berwald, Discover Magazine, 10 Nov. 2017 Because, sure, we’re all stressed the hell out, but at least a wasp hasn’t injected you with an egg that hatches into a larva that feeds on your nutrients before erupting out of your body.—Matt Simon, Wired, 9 Nov. 2020 See More
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borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin lārva "evil spirit, demon" (applied also to a frightening mask and a puppet in the form of a skeleton), of uncertain origin
Regarding its use in biology, see the note at imago. Regarding the Latin etymology see the note at lar.
: the immature, wingless, and often wormlike feeding form that hatches from the egg of many insects, alters chiefly in size while passing through several molts, and is finally transformed into a pupa or chrysalis from which the adult emerges
: the early form of an animal (as a frog) that at birth or hatching is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose before assuming the adult characters