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[pyoo-puh] /ˈpyu pə/
noun, plural pupae
[pyoo-pee] /ˈpyu pi/ (Show IPA),
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 forms
pupal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pupal
Historical Examples
  • Galeotheca: that part of the pupal case that covers the gales.

  • 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.

  • If the inmate be in the pupal state, or even if it be ready to emerge in its perfect condition, the earwig will eat it.

    Insect Architecture James Rennie
  • After the caterpillar ceases from feeding, it crawls aside for the purpose of assuming the pupal state.

    Insect Architecture James Rennie
  • The pupal duration could not be determined closer than ten days, and this may be the usual length of time required for this stage.

  • It was early spring in the tropics; insect life was still in the gourmand stage, or that of pupal sleep.

    Jungle Peace William Beebe
  • Here they molt again, or pupate as it is called, changing to a non-feeding, quiescent stage called the pupal stage.

British Dictionary definitions for pupal


noun (pl) -pae (-piː), -pas
an insect at the immobile nonfeeding stage of development between larva and adult, when many internal changes occur See coarctate, exarate, obtect
Derived Forms
pupal, 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
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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
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pupal in Science

Plural pupae (py'pē)
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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