Definition of larva in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlärvə/

noun (plural larvae /-vē/ /-ˌvī/)

1The active immature form of an insect, especially one that differs greatly from the adult and forms the stage between egg and pupa, e.g., a caterpillar or grub. Compare with nymph (sense 2).
Example sentences
  • Putsi flies have normal four life cycle stage like most insects - egg, larvae, pupa and adult.
  • The life cycle of a butterfly includes four stages: egg, caterpillar or larva, pupa, and adult.
  • All flies pass through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
1.1An immature form of other animals that undergo some metamorphosis, e.g., a tadpole.
Example sentences
  • Later, the tadpole larva will undergo metamorphosis to give rise to the adult frog; the tail regresses and the limbs form.
  • The free-swimming larva settles and undergoes metamorphosis into a juvenile sponge.
  • A larva is an immature animal that doesn't look like the adult and differs markedly from the adult.



Pronunciation: /-ˌsīd/
Example sentences
  • Even here in North America, the use of larvicides against mosquitoes may prevent the spread of West Nile virus which has killed hundreds of people across the continent in the past three years.
  • They suggest using larvicides, which kill mosquitoes in the larval stage.
  • Applying larvicides in many areas of standing water to kill larvae might cause more harm than good.


Mid 17th century (denoting a disembodied spirit or ghost): from Latin, literally 'ghost, mask'.

  • ‘A disembodied spirit or ghost’ was the first use of this Latin word which means literally ‘ghost, mask’. The common modern use as a term for the active immature form of an insect is due to the Swedish botanist Linnaeus (1707–78).

Words that rhyme with larva

balaclava, Bratislava, carver, cassava, Costa Brava, guava, Java, kava, lava, palaver

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: lar·va

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