nymph

[nimf]
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-uhn] /ˈnɪm fi ən/, adjectiveun·nymph·al, adjectiveun·nym·phe·an, adjective

Synonyms for nymph

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for nymphs

fairy, spirit, goddess, sprite, naiad, nymphet, sylph, dryad, mermaid

Examples from the Web for nymphs

Contemporary Examples of nymphs

Historical Examples of nymphs

  • Do you not perceive that I am already overtaken by the Nymphs to whom you have mischievously exposed me?

  • Judging from the ornaments and images, this must be a spot sacred to Achelous and the Nymphs.

  • At the portal had stood two nymphs, now almost classic with decay.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • We are thy fleet, Idaean pines from the holy hill, now nymphs of the sea.

  • And fauns and nymphs and satyrs echoed that shout most joyously.


British Dictionary definitions for nymphs

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 for nymph

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 nymphs

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

nymphs 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.

nymphs in Culture

nymphs

Female spirits of classical mythology who lived in forests, bodies of water, and other places outdoors.

Note

By extension, a “nymph” is a beautiful or seductive woman.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.