pupil

1 of 2

noun (1)

pu·​pil ˈpyü-pəl How to pronounce pupil (audio)
1
: a child or young person in school or in the charge of a tutor or instructor : student
2
: one who has been taught or influenced by a famous or distinguished person

pupil

2 of 2

noun (2)

: the contractile aperture in the iris of the eye
pupillary adjective

Examples of pupil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
During REM sleep, levels of norepinephrine—a neurotransmitter that drives fear responses such as sweating, rapid heart rate and pupil dilation—get tamped down. Ingrid Wickelgren, Scientific American, 20 Feb. 2024 According to previous Courier Journal reporting, the GOP budget awaiting Senate approval would provide districts with a 4% increase in per pupil funding for the 2024-25 school year, followed by another 2% increase for the 2025-26 academic year. Marina Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 13 Feb. 2024 The dynamic here is Freud as teacher, Lewis as pupil. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 9 Jan. 2024 That’s enough to deduce details about a user’s eyes, including the direction of their gaze, their eye position in relation to the screen, and the dilation of their pupils. IEEE Spectrum, 13 Dec. 2023 On the cover is a self-portrait of Wolfe looking possessed, with slots of empty white where her pupils should be. Hanif Abdurraqib, The New Yorker, 9 Feb. 2024 Eton College has become synonymous with the royals ever since Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry were pupils there in the 1990s. Rebecca Cope, Vogue, 18 Dec. 2023 There, during the school’s Christmas break, a dyspeptic teacher (played by Paul Giamatti) is assigned to watch over the handful of students who won’t be returning home for the holidays, including a talented but unruly pupil (Dominic Sessa) in his ancient civilizations class. Dave Itzkoff, Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2023 Unfortunately, the incredible ascension of his star pupil piques his estranged twin brother’s interest. John Hopewell, Variety, 24 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English pupille minor ward, from Anglo-French, from Latin pupillus male ward (from diminutive of pupus boy) & pupilla female ward, from diminutive of pupa girl, doll

Noun (2)

Middle French pupille, from Latin pupilla, from diminutive of pupa doll; from the tiny image of oneself seen reflected in another's eye

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1536, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pupil was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near pupil

Cite this Entry

“Pupil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pupil. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

pupil

1 of 2 noun
pu·​pil ˈpyü-pəl How to pronounce pupil (audio)
1
: a child or young person in school or in the care of a tutor or teacher
2
: one who has been taught or influenced by a person of fame : disciple

pupil

2 of 2 noun
: the usually round opening in the iris that contracts and expands to control the amount of light entering the eye
Etymology

Noun

Middle English pupille "a child under the care of a guardian," from early French pupille (same meaning), from Latin pupillus "a boy under the care of a guardian" and pupilla "a girl under the care of a guardian"; pupillus derived from pupus "boy"; pupilla derived from pupa "girl, doll" — related to pupil entry 2

Noun

derived from Latin pupilla "pupil of the eye, girl under the care of a guardian," literally, "little doll," derived from pupa "doll, girl"; so called because the tiny image of oneself seen in another's eye is like a tiny doll

Word Origin
If you look into another person's eye, you can see a small reflection of yourself. That small image made the ancient Romans think of a doll. Thus, they called the part of the eye in which it appears the pupilla. This word literally meant "little doll." The English word for that part of the eye, pupil, can be traced to the Latin pupilla. Pupilla also had another meaning. A little girl who was an orphan and was in the care of a guardian was called a pupilla. A little boy in the same situation was called a pupillus. From these two Latin words we get the other English pupil, meaning "a young student in the care of a tutor or in school."

Medical Definition

pupil

noun
pu·​pil ˈpyü-pəl How to pronounce pupil (audio)
: the contractile usually round aperture in the iris of the eye

More from Merriam-Webster on pupil

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