Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[pyoo-puh l] /ˈpyu pəl/
a person, usually young, who is learning under the close supervision of a teacher at school, a private tutor, or the like; student.
Civil Law. an orphaned or emancipated minor under the care of a guardian.
Roman Law. a person under the age of puberty orphaned or emancipated, and under the care of a guardian.
Origin of pupil1
1350-1400; Middle English pupille < Middle French < Latin pūpillus (masculine), pūpilla (feminine) orphan, ward, diminutives of pūpus boy, pūpa girl
Related forms
pupilless, adjective
1. apprentice, novice. Pupil, disciple, scholar, student refer to a person who is studying, usually in a school. A pupil is one under the close supervision of a teacher, either because of youth or of specialization in some branch of study: a grade-school pupil; the pupil of a famous musician. A disciple is one who follows the teachings or doctrines of a person whom he or she considers to be a master or authority: a disciple of Swedenborg. Scholar, once meaning the same as pupil, is today usually applied to one who has acquired wide erudition in some field of learning: a great Latin scholar. A student is a person attending an educational institution or someone who has devoted much attention to a particular problem: a college student; a student of politics.


[pyoo-puh l] /ˈpyu pəl/
noun, Anatomy.
the expanding and contracting opening in the iris of the eye, through which light passes to the retina.
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin pūpilla literally, little doll; for sense compare Greek kórē girl, doll, pupil of the eye, alluding to the tiny reflections visible in the pupils. See pupa
Related forms
pupilless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for pupil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for pupil


a student who is taught by a teacher, esp a young student
(civil law, Scots law) a boy under 14 or a girl under 12 who is in the care of a guardian
Word Origin
C14: from Latin pupillus an orphan, from pūpus a child


the dark circular aperture at the centre of the iris of the eye, through which light enters
Word Origin
C16: from Latin pūpilla, diminutive of pūpa girl, puppet; from the tiny reflections in the eye
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for pupil

"student," late 14c., originally "orphan child, ward," from Old French pupille (14c.) and directly from Latin pupillus (fem. pupilla) "orphan child, ward, minor," diminutive of pupus "boy" (fem. pupa "girl"), probably related to puer "child," possibly from PIE *pup-, from root *pu- "to swell, inflate." Meaning "disciple, student" first recorded 1560s. Related: Pupillary.


"center of the eye," early 15c. (in English in Latin form from late 14c.), from Old French pupille (14c.), from Latin pupilla, originally "little girl-doll," diminutive of pupa "girl; doll" (see pupil (n.1)), so called from the tiny image one sees of himself reflected in the eye of another. Greek used the same word, kore (literally "girl"), to mean both "doll" and "pupil of the eye;" and cf. obsolete baby "small image of oneself in another's pupil" (1590s), source of 17c. colloquial expression to look babies "stare lovingly into another's eyes."

Self-knowledge can be obtained only by looking into the mind and virtue of the soul, which is the diviner part of a man, as we see our own image in another's eye. [Plato, "Alcibiades," I.133]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
pupil in Medicine

pupil pu·pil (pyōō'pəl)
The apparently black circular opening in the center of the iris of the eye, through which light passes to the retina.

pu'pi·lar adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
pupil in Science
The opening in the center of the iris through which light enters the eye.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
pupil in Culture

pupil definition

The seemingly black, central opening in the iris of the eye, through which light enters.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for pupil

Difficulty index for pupil

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for pupil

Scrabble Words With Friends