February 09, 2013
larva (noun)
\LAHR-vuh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a young wingless often wormlike form (as a grub or caterpillar) that hatches from the egg of many insects2 : an early form of any animal that at birth or hatching is very different from its parents
How do you use it?
In the process of constructing its cocoon, one silkworm larva can spin a strong silk thread as long as 1,000 yards.
Are you a word wiz?

Our word "larva" comes from the Latin word "larva." What do you think the Latin word means?

It's time to unmask A as the answer. The three post-egg stages of an insect's life are known as "larva," "pupa," and "imago," designations adopted in the 18th century. Biologists of that time saw the adult as the only genuine form of an insect, so they called it "imago," the proper "image" or representation of the creature. The preceding stages were considered unreal or misleading, and were named with the Latin words "pupa," meaning "doll," and "larva," which was a sort of ghostlike demon or a mask representing a demon. Although modern biology recognizes larval stages to be just as real as adults, the original terminology is still used.
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