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[nimf] /nɪmf/
one of a numerous class of lesser deities of mythology, conceived of as beautiful maidens inhabiting the sea, rivers, woods, trees, mountains, meadows, etc., and frequently mentioned as attending a superior deity.
a beautiful or graceful young woman.
a maiden.
the young of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.
Origin of nymph
1350-1400; Middle English nimphe < Latin nympha < Greek nýmphē bride, nymph
Related forms
nymphal, nymphean
[nim-fee-uh n] /ˈnɪm fi ən/ (Show IPA),
unnymphal, adjective
unnymphean, adjective
1. naiad, nereid, oread, dryad, hamadryad. See sylph. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nymph
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a dressing-room for a nymph of the woods, for a dryad, for Diana herself.

    The Innocent Adventuress Mary Hastings Bradley
  • A nymph with bright and flowing hair; a hag like Hecuba, by Jove!

  • She was dressed as a country girl, but looked as lovely as a nymph.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • But Verelst, scowling at the dial which the legs of the nymph upheld, removed his glasses.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • He, men say, was sprung of Faunus and the nymph Marica of Laurentum.

  • She was a nymph once, they say—the daughter of Idmon the dyer, of Colophon, a city of Lydia.

    A Book of Myths Jean Lang
  • But I'm going to stay on and see my nymph safely through her dark days.

    Jane Journeys On Ruth Comfort Mitchell
  • What answer does the lovelorn swain receive from the nymph he adores?

    Unwritten Literature of Hawaii Nathaniel Bright Emerson
  • He tarried so long that the nymph, or whatever it might be, came nearer.

    The Mermaid

    Lily Dougall
British Dictionary definitions for nymph


(myth) a spirit of nature envisaged as a beautiful maiden
(mainly poetic) a beautiful young woman
the immature form of some insects, such as the dragonfly and mayfly, and certain arthropods. Nymphs resemble the adult, apart from having underdeveloped reproductive organs and (in the case of insects) wings, and develop into the adult without a pupal stage
Derived Forms
nymphal, nymphean (ˈnɪmfɪən) adjective
nymphlike, adjective
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin, from Greek numphē nymph; related to Latin nūbere to marry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nymph

late 14c., "class of semi-divine female beings," from Old French nimphe (13c.), from Latin nympha "nymph, demi-goddess; bride, mistress, young woman," from Greek nymphe "bride, young wife," later "beautiful young woman," then "semi-divine being in the form of a beautiful maiden;" related to Latin nubere "to marry, wed" (see nuptial). Sub-groups include dryads, hamadryads, naiads, nereids, and oreads. Sense in English of "young woman, girl" is attested from 1580s. Meaning "insect stage between larva and adult" is recorded from 1570s. Related: Nymphal; nymphean.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nymph in Science
The immature form of those insects that do not pass through a pupal stage. Nymphs usually resemble the adults, but are smaller, lack fully developed wings, and are sexually immature. Compare imago, larva, pupa.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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