- 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 for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sylphlike
The young women have none of the sylphlike appearance of the Mandingoes or Soosoos.Captain Canot
For at this writing in those parts the slender, sylphlike string-bean is not playing a minor part, as with us.Europe Revised
Irvin S. Cobb
Her vest and train of white satin did not conceal her sylphlike form and delicate feet.Sketches
I had red cheeks and was ashamed of them, and my stocky, square-shouldered figure was anything but sylphlike.Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton College
Jessie Graham Flower
It is one of the commonest delusions among fat men that horseback riding will bring them down and make them sylphlike and willowy.Cobb's Anatomy
Irvin S. Cobb
- a slender graceful girl or young woman
- any of a class of imaginary beings assumed to inhabit the air
Word Origin and History for sylphlike
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).