sylph

[ silf ]
/ sɪlf /

noun

a slender, graceful woman or girl.
(in folklore) one of a race of supernatural beings supposed to inhabit the air.

Origin of sylph

1650–60; < New Latin sylphēs (plural), coined by Paracelsus; apparently blend of sylva (variant spelling of Latin silva forest) and Greek nýmphē nymph

SYNONYMS FOR sylph

2 Sylph, salamander, undine ( nymph ), gnome were imaginary beings inhabiting the four elements once believed to make up the physical world. All except the gnomes were female. Sylphs dwelt in the air and were light, dainty, and airy beings. Salamanders dwelt in fire: “a salamander that … lives in the midst of flames” (Addison). Undines were water spirits: By marrying a man, an undine could acquire a mortal soul. (They were also called nymphs, though nymphs were ordinarily minor divinities of nature who dwelt in woods, hills, and meadows as well as in waters.) Gnomes were little old men or dwarfs, dwelling in the earth: ugly enough to be king of the gnomes.

Related forms

sylph·ic, adjectivesylph·like, adjective
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Examples from the Web for sylph

British Dictionary definitions for sylph

sylph

/ (sɪlf) /

noun

a slender graceful girl or young woman
any of a class of imaginary beings assumed to inhabit the air

Derived Forms

sylphlike, rare sylphic, sylphish or sylphy, adjective

Word Origin for sylph

C17: from New Latin sylphus, probably coined from Latin silva wood + Greek numphē nymph
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