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noun, plural pu·pae [pyoo-pee] /ˈpyu pi/, pu·pas.
  1. an insect in the nonfeeding, usually immobile, transformation stage between the larva and the imago.

Origin of pupa

1765–70; < New Latin, special use of Latin pūpa girl, doll, puppet. See pupil1, puppet
Related formspu·pal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pupal

Historical Examples

  • Galeotheca: that part of the pupal case that covers the gales.

    Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology

    John. B. Smith

  • From the fruit this insect goes to the ground where the pupal stage is passed in the soil.

    Apple Growing

    M. C. Burritt

  • Watch the miller escape from the pupal case and describe it.

  • They resume their feeding in April, and change to the pupal state about the end of May.

    Butterflies and Moths

    William S. Furneaux

  • The moth passes the winter in the pupal state on leaves underneath the vine, emerging about the time grapes are blossoming.

British Dictionary definitions for pupal


noun plural -pae (-piː) or -pas
  1. an insect at the immobile nonfeeding stage of development between larva and adult, when many internal changes occurSee coarctate, exarate, obtect
Derived Formspupal, adjective

Word Origin

C19: via New Latin, from Latin: a doll, puppet
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 pupal



"post-larval stage of an insect," 1773, special use by Linnæus (1758) of Latin pupa "girl, doll, puppet" (see pupil (n.1)) on notion of "undeveloped creature." Related: Pupal; pupiform.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pupal in Science


Plural pupae (pyōō)
  1. An insect in the nonfeeding stage of development between the larva and adult, during which it typically undergoes a complete transformation within a protective cocoon or hardened case. Only certain kinds of insects, such as moths, butterflies, ants, and beetles, develop as larvae and pupae. Compare imago larva nymph.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.