- a slender, graceful woman or girl.
- (in folklore) one of a race of supernatural beings supposed to inhabit the air.
Origin of sylph
Synonyms for sylph
- a slender graceful girl or young woman
- any of a class of imaginary beings assumed to inhabit the air
Word Origin 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).