spring·​tail ˈspriŋ-ˌtāl How to pronounce springtail (audio)
: any of an order (Collembola) of small primitive wingless arthropods that are either classified as insects or are placed in a related class (Entognatha), that have internal mouthparts enclosed in folds of the head, usually possess a furcula used for jumping, exhibit incomplete metamorphosis, feed especially on fungi and decaying vegetation, and are typically found in moist or wet surroundings (such as soil, on the surface of water or melting snow, or in caves)

called also collembolan

Examples of springtail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In addition to Belgica antarctica, the terrestrial ecosystem is composed of just a handful of small animals like springtails (a type of tiny arthropod), a smattering of microorganisms and low-lying ground cover such as lichen. Popular Science, 15 Feb. 2024 The reason that the spider can survive this high up remains somewhat of a mystery, although it is known to eat flies and springtails for nourishment. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 That list would certainly include springtails, sowbugs, pillbugs, millipedes, slugs, fungi and others. oregonlive, 26 Aug. 2023 Liquids aren’t the only things that can’t get a hold on a springtail’s skin. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 2 Oct. 2011 But now researchers have found that just as flowers release scents that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, so too does the humble moss lure in the springtail with its own special secretions . Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 23 July 2012 Among the wonders of the natural world that few people have ever noticed: a semiaquatic springtail in motion. Oliver Whang, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2022 Inspired by this not-so-random jumping, the scientists also built springtail-like leaping robots. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Nov. 2022 This tube picks up a drop of water at takeoff, which stabilizes the springtail while in the air and acts as an anchor to perfect water landings, even inside a laboratory wind tunnel. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Nov. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'springtail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1781, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of springtail was in 1781

Dictionary Entries Near springtail

Cite this Entry

“Springtail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/springtail. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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