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nymph

[nimf]
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noun
  1. 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.
  2. a beautiful or graceful young woman.
  3. a maiden.
  4. the young of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.

Origin of nymph

1350–1400; Middle English nimphe < Latin nympha < Greek nýmphē bride, nymph
Related formsnymph·al, nym·phe·an [nim-fee-uh n] /ˈnɪm fi ən/, adjectiveun·nymph·al, adjectiveun·nym·phe·an, adjective

Synonyms

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1. naiad, nereid, oread, dryad, hamadryad. See sylph.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for nymph

nymph

noun
  1. myth a spirit of nature envisaged as a beautiful maiden
  2. mainly poetic a beautiful young woman
  3. 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 Formsnymphal or nymphean (ˈnɪmfɪən), adjectivenymphlike, 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

Word Origin and History for nymph

n.

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

nymph in Science

nymph

[nĭmf]
  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.