[17] The Greek word for ‘insect’ was éntomon (source of English entomology [18]). It was derived from entémnein ‘cut up’, a compound verb formed from en- ‘in’ and témnein ‘cut’ (a close relative of English tome), and denoted literally ‘creature divided up into segments’. The term was translated literally into Latin as insectum (originally the past participle of insecāre, a compound verb formed from inand secāre ‘cut’), and seems to have been introduced into English in Philemon Holland’s translation of Pliny’s Natural History 1601. => SECTION
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   The small creatures are so called because their bodies are divided into sections. The word thus represents Latin insectum, from insecare, 'to cut into,' itself a translation of Greek entomon. (Hence entomology as the study of insects.)

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Insect — In sect, a. 1. Of or pertaining to an insect or insects. [1913 Webster] 2. Like an insect; small; mean; ephemeral. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • insect — (n.) c.1600, from L. (animal) insectum (animal) with a notched or divided body, lit. cut into, from neuter pp. of insectare to cut into, to cut up, from in into (see IN (Cf. in ) (2)) + secare to cut (see SECTION (Cf. section)). Pliny s loan… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Insect — In sect ([i^]n s[e^]kt), n. [F. insecte, L. insectum, fr. insectus, p. p. of insecare to cut in. See {Section}. The name was originally given to certain small animals, whose bodies appear cut in, or almost divided. Cf. {Entomology}.] 1. (Zo[… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • insect — [n] bug ant, aphid, bedbug, bee, beetle, bumblebee, butterfly, cockroach, cootie, daddy longlegs, dragonfly, flea, fly, fruit fly, gnat, grasshopper, hornet, ladybug, louse, mite, mosquito, moth, pest, praying mantis, termite, tick, vermin,… …   New thesaurus

  • insect — ► NOUN ▪ a small invertebrate animal with a head, thorax, and abdomen, six legs, two antennae, and usually one or two pairs of wings. ORIGIN from Latin animal insectum segmented animal , from insecare cut up or into …   English terms dictionary

  • insect — [in′sekt΄] n. [< L insectum (animale), lit., notched (animal), neut. of pp. of insecare, to cut into < in , in + secare, to cut (see SAW2): from the segmented bodies: cf. ENTOMO ] 1. any of a large class (Insecta) of small arthropod animals …   English World dictionary

  • Insect — For the Breed 77 album, see Insects (album). Insect Temporal range: 396–0 Ma …   Wikipedia

  • insect — insectival /in sek tuy veuhl/, adj. /in sekt/, n. 1. any animal of the class Insecta, comprising small, air breathing arthropods having the body divided into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), and having three pairs of legs and usually two… …   Universalium

  • insect — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ flying, winged ▪ aquatic ▪ beneficial ▪ Unfortunately, pesticides kill off beneficial insects as well as harmful ones. ▪ harmful …   Collocations dictionary

  • insect — noun a) An arthropod in the class Insecta, characterized by six legs, up to four wings, and a chitinous exoskeleton. Our shed has several insect infestions, including ants, yellowjackets, and wasps. b) Any small arthropod similar to an insect… …   Wiktionary

  • insect — in•sect [[t]ˈɪn sɛkt[/t]] n. 1) ent any animal of the class Insecta, comprising small, air breathing arthropods having the body divided into three parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), and having two antennae, three pairs of legs, and usu. two pairs …   From formal English to slang

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