- a slender, graceful woman or girl.
- (in folklore) one of a race of supernatural beings supposed to inhabit the air.
Origin of sylph
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sylph
Meg is always moaning and groaning because she isn't a sylph!Stories of a Western Town
He could not picture her as a sylph of one hundred and fifty pounds.Philo Gubb Correspondence-School Detective
Ellis Parker Butler
Her style was "sylph," and so she was gauzy and floating in all her drapery.Confessions Of Con Cregan
Charles James Lever
The Sylph rose and sank to the first long roll of the open sea.
The Sylph came about, with sails trembling, and lost headway.
- a slender graceful girl or young woman
- any of a class of imaginary beings assumed to inhabit the air
Word Origin and History for sylph
1650s, from Modern Latin sylphes (plural), coined 16c. by Paracelsus (1493-1541), originally referring to any race of spirits inhabiting the air, described as being mortal but lacking a soul. Paracelsus' word seems to be an arbitrary coinage, but perhaps it holds a suggestion of Latin sylva and Greek nymph. The meaning "slender, graceful girl" first recorded 1838, on the notion of "light, airy movements." Silphid (1670s) are the younger or smaller variety, from French sylphide (1670s).