from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The newly hatched, wingless, often wormlike form of many insects before metamorphosis.
  • n. The newly hatched, earliest stage of any of various animals that undergo metamorphosis, differing markedly in form and appearance from the adult.
  • n. Roman Mythology A malevolent spirit of the dead; a lemur.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An early stage of growth for some insects and amphibians, in which after hatching from their egg, insects are wingless and resemble a caterpillar or grub, and amphibians lack limbs and ressemble fish.
  • n. An animal in the aforementioned stage.
  • n. A form of a recently born or hatched animal that is quite different from its adult stage.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any young insect from the time that it hatches from the egg until it becomes a pupa, or chrysalis. During this time it usually molts several times, and may change its form or color each time. The larvæ of many insects are much like the adults in form and habits, but have no trace of wings, the rudimentary wings appearing only in the pupa stage. In other groups of insects the larvæ are totally unlike the parents in structure and habits, and are called caterpillars, grubs, maggots, etc.
  • n. The early, immature form of any animal when more or less of a metamorphosis takes place, before the assumption of the mature shape.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Roman mythology, a ghost; a specter; a shade: generally in the plural. Compare Lar, 1.
  • n. In zoology:
  • n. The early form of any animal which during its development is unlike its parent: thus the tadpole, the larva of the frog, is unlike the frog.
  • n. A genus of mollusks.
  • n. A genus of birds: same as Alca.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the immature free-living form of most invertebrates and amphibians and fish which at hatching from the egg is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin lārva, specter, mask (because it acts as a specter of or a mask for the adult form).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin larva ("ghost-like, masked").


  • The larva of the Meloidæ, before reaching the nymphal state, passes through four forms, which I call the _primary larva_, the _secondary larva_, the _pseudochrysalis_ and the _tertiary larva_.

    The Glow-Worm and Other Beetles

  • The word larva is first recorded in English in its scientific sense in 1768, although it had been used in its “spirit” sense in 1651 in a way that foreshadowed the usage by Linnaeus.

    Unmasking religion

  • The word larva referring to the newly hatched form of insects before they undergo metamorphosis comes from the Latin word lārva, meaning “evil spirit, demon, devil.”

    Unmasking religion

  • We have seen that even in them the term "complete" is a relative and not absolute expression, and that the terms larva and pupa are convenient designations for states varying in duration, and assumed to fulfil certain ends of existence, and even then dependent on length of seasons, variation in climate, and even on the locality.

    Our Common Insects A Popular Account of the Insects of Our Fields, Forests, Gardens and Houses

  • Here it is necessary to disabuse the reader's mind of the prevalent belief that the terms larva, pupa and imago are fixed and absolute.

    Our Common Insects A Popular Account of the Insects of Our Fields, Forests, Gardens and Houses

  • The musca pendula lives in stagnant water; the larva is suspended by

    Note IV

  • But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg. [

    The Memory Hole

  • The toxin resides in the thorax section of the larva, which is crushed and mixed with tree gum and painted onto the shaft of the arrow point.


  • Insect larvae have segments; recall the larva of a butterfly!

    The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1995 - Presentation Speech

  • It is clear that the only time when the scalebug can emigrate and infest a new tree is the time when it is a larva, that is, when it has the power of locomotion.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 286, June 25, 1881


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