Definition of naiad in US English:


nounPlural naiades, Plural naiads

  • 1(in classical mythology) a water nymph said to inhabit a river, spring, or waterfall.

    • ‘Here and there are disposed naiads and leaping satyrs.’
    • ‘Therefore the world of nature is no longer seen as populated by capricious supernatural beings, by fates and furies, dryads and naiads, gods of war or goddesses of sex and fertility.’
    • ‘One day he inadvertently bathed in the spring of the naiad he had spurned.’
    • ‘Salmacis was the only one of the naiads who did not follow the teachings of Artemis and did not vary her routine with the vigorous exercise of the hunt.’
    • ‘The mermaids and naiads will recede to deep ocean or hidden lakes.’
    • ‘‘If I didn't know better, I would of thought all of you damsels were rain forest naiads,’ he laughed.’
  • 2The aquatic larva or nymph of a dragonfly, mayfly, or stonefly.

    • ‘The treatment pools contained either Aeshna naiads or E. perezi tadpoles; see Figure 1.’
    • ‘The sun was just setting and the lake was abuzz in dragonflies, going nuts for all the little naiads.’
    • ‘Superfluous killing has been reported for a diverse group of animals, including zooplankton, stoats and weasels, damselfly naiads, wolves, predaceous mites, and spiders.’
  • 3A submerged aquatic plant with narrow leaves and minute flowers.

    Genus Najas, family Najadaceae

    • ‘The common kinds include the large family of pondweeds, coontail, water milfoil, water weeds, and naiads (Najas).’


Via Latin from Greek Naias, Naiad-, from naein ‘to flow’. Use as a term in entomology and botany dates from the early 20th century.