nymph


nymph
nymphal, nymphean /nim"fee euhn/, adj.
/nimf/, n.
1. one of a numerous class of lesser deities of mythology, conceived of as beautiful maidens inhabiting the sea, rivers, woods, trees, mountains, meadows, etc., and frequently mentioned as attending a superior deity.
2. a beautiful or graceful young woman.
3. a maiden.
4. the young of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.
[1350-1400; ME nimphe < L nympha < Gk nýmphe bride, nymph]
Syn. 1. naiad, nereid, oread, dryad, hamadryad. See sylph.

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I
In Greek mythology, any of a large class of minor female divinities.

Nymphs were usually associated with features of the natural world, such as trees and water. Though not immortal, they were extremely long-lived, and they tended to be well disposed toward humans. They were grouped according to the sphere of nature with which they were connected.
II
In entomology, the sexually immature form of insects that undergo incomplete metamorphosis (e.g., grasshoppers).

The nymph is similar to the adult but differs in body proportions and (in winged species) has only wing buds, which develop into wings after the first few molts (see molting). During each successive growing stage (instar), the nymph begins to resemble the adult more closely. The nymphs of aquatic species (also called naiads), such as dragonflies, have gills and other modifications for an aquatic existence. At maturity, they float to the surface or crawl out of the water, undergo a final molt, and emerge as winged adults.

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      in Greek mythology, any of a large class of inferior female divinities. The nymphs were usually associated with fertile, growing things, such as trees, or with water. They were not immortal but were extremely long-lived and were on the whole kindly disposed toward men. They were distinguished according to the sphere of nature with which they were connected. The Oceanids, for example, were sea nymphs; the Nereids (Nereid) inhabited both saltwater and freshwater; the Naiads presided over springs, rivers, and lakes. The Oreads (oros, “mountain”) were nymphs of mountains and grottoes; the Napaeae (nape, “dell”) and the Alseids (alsos, “grove”) were nymphs of glens and groves; the Dryads or Hamadryads presided over forests and trees.

      Italy had native divinities of springs and streams and water goddesses (called Lymphae) with whom the Greek nymphs tended to become identified.

      in entomology, sexually immature form usually similar to the adult and found in such insects as grasshoppers and cockroaches, which have incomplete, or hemimetabolic, metamorphosis (see metamorphosis). Wings, if present, develop from external wing buds after the first few molts. The body proportions of the first nymphal stages are quite different from those of the adult. During each successive growing stage (instar) the nymph begins to resemble the adult more closely.

      In contrast to nymphs that develop on land, the aquatic young of dragonflies, stoneflies, and mayflies are sometimes called naiads. Their metamorphosis is more complicated, involving a change to a different environment. The aquatic nymph has gills and other modifications for an aquatic existence. Nymphs are an important element in the food of trout and are imitated by the artificial flies and nymphs of anglers. The aquatic nymph at maturity floats to the surface or crawls out of the water, goes through its last molt and emerges as a winged adult.

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Universalium. 2010.

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