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Pronunciation: \'lar-v[schwa]\


plural lar*vae \-v[macron over e]\

1 : a young wingless form (as a grub or caterpillar) of many insects that hatches from an egg

2 : an early form of any animal (as a frog) that at birth or hatching is very different from its parents

Word History: To biologists in the 1700s, the adult was the only genuine form of an insect. The stages that come between the egg and the adult in many insects' lives were considered somehow unreal, or at best disguises. These stages were named with the Latin words pupa, "doll," and larva, which in the Latin of the ancient Romans was a sort of ghostly demon or a mask representing a demon. Although to modern biologists larvae such as caterpillars are as real as adults, the traditional terms larva and pupa remain with us.

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Title Annotation:Dictionary entry
Publication:Merriam-Webster's Elementary Dictionary
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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