zo·​ea zō-ˈē-ə How to pronounce zoea (audio)
plural zoeae zō-ˈē-ˌē How to pronounce zoea (audio) or zoeas zō-ˈē-əz How to pronounce zoea (audio)
: a free-swimming planktonic larval form of many decapod crustaceans and especially crabs that has a relatively large cephalothorax, conspicuous eyes, and fringed antennae and mouthparts

Illustration of zoea

Illustration of zoea

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, originally a genus name (the larva having been mistaken for a crustacean species), probably from Greek zōḗ "life" (derivative from the base of zô, zên "to be alive, live") + New Latin -ea, noun derivative from the feminine of Latin -eus -eous, zoo-

Note: Name introduced by the French botanist and zoologist Louis Augustin Guillaume Bosc (1759-1828) in Histoire naturelle des crustacés, tome second (Paris, An X [1801-02]), p. 135. Bosc gives the vernacular name as zoé, but does not comment on the derivation of the word.

First Known Use

1828, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zoea was in 1828

Dictionary Entries Near zoea

Cite this Entry

“Zoea.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoea. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

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