1. Greek & Roman Mythology Any of numerous minor deities represented as beautiful maidens inhabiting and sometimes personifying features of nature such as trees, waters, and mountains.
2. A sexually mature and attractive young woman.
a. The immature form of an insect, such as a grasshopper, that does not pass through a pupal stage during metamorphosis. Nymphs resemble adults but are smaller and lack fully developed wings.
b. The eight-legged immature form of certain arachnids, such as ticks and mites.
[Middle English nimphe, from Old French, from Latin nympha, from Greek numphē.]
nymphal (nĭmfəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.