One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small arthropod animal that has six legs and generally one or two pairs of wings.
Insects are usually placed in the class Insecta (see also Hexapoda). The body of a typical adult insect is divided into head, thorax (bearing the legs and wings), and abdomen. The class includes many familiar forms, such as flies, bees, wasps, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. Insects are the most numerous animals in both numbers of individuals and of different kinds, with more than a million species in all habitats except the sea, and they are of enormous economic importance as pests and carriers of disease, and also as pollinators
- ‘Being dinner for a swarm of insects is nobody's idea of a good time.’
- ‘This insect is among the most damaging arthropod pests of pears in North America and Europe.’
- ‘In winter it feeds on the larvae of flying insects, and starts breeding very early in the season.’
- ‘Each tree is a city to nature inhabited by mosses, birds, insects and small animals.’
- ‘They have sections for amphibians, insects, mammals, fish, reptiles and more.’
- ‘The Taverham visitor spent much time hunting for insects and larvae among fallen leaves in scrubby woodland.’
- ‘The whole idea behind fly fishing is to mimic the different insects and aquatic animals fish feed on.’
- ‘Plants can use indirect defence mechanisms to protect themselves against herbivorous insects.’
- ‘The flightless birds and insects of such islands had clearly lost a highly complex function.’
- ‘Few other studies have correlated the influence of the full moon with behaviour of animals or insects.’
- ‘In the late afternoon there will be time for a nature walk to spot desert animals, birds and insects.’
- ‘If everyone keeps their promise this will also make a real difference to all sorts of wildlife from insects to birds.’
- ‘Carnivorous animals will eat live insects and some will eat mice and rats.’
- ‘It was an unusual insect, with coloured wings that faded from red to yellow.’
- ‘Voices that would seem possible only from the throat of a bird in fact arise from the wings of an insect.’
- ‘For Buddhists, there is no difference between insects and larger animals.’
- ‘Useful insects such as bees or natural parasites and predators of pests may be affected by pesticide residues.’
- ‘The pods release a gas that kills insects and animals that may be living in cargo.’
- ‘Surviving juveniles disperse to the riffles and runs of the river to live on insect larvae and small crustaceans.’
- ‘Mammals, birds, insects and plants have been monitored in the strips for five years.’
- 1.1informal Any small invertebrate animal, especially one with several pairs of legs.
- ‘This group includes all the insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, also spiders and centipedes.’
- ‘For a web to be effective, it needs to be built so that an insect doesn't snap the web or bounce out of it.’
Early 17th century (originally denoting any small cold-blooded creature with a segmented body): from Latin (animal) insectum ‘segmented (animal)’ (translating Greek zōion entomon), from insecare ‘cut up or into’, from in- ‘into’ + secare ‘to cut’.
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