Student Dictionary

5 entries found for insect.
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Main Entry: inĚsect
Pronunciation: primarystressin-secondarystresssekt
Function: noun
Etymology: from Latin insectum "insect," derived from insecare "to cut into," from in- "in" and secare "to cut" --related to DISSECT, SECTION
1 : any of numerous small invertebrate animals (as spiders or centipedes) that are more or less obviously made up of segments -- not used technically
2 : any of a class of arthropods (as butterflies, true bugs, two-winged flies, bees, and grasshoppers) with the body clearly divided into a head, thorax, and abdomen, with three pairs of jointed legs, and usually with one or two pairs of wings
Word History The bodies of insects have segments, or divisions. Thus they seem to have a series of notches cut into them. This appearance 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 into the Latin word insectum, from the verb insecare "to cut into." Insectum was borrowed into English as insect.
[insect illustration]

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