sylph

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

First attested in 1657. From New Latin sylphes, coined by Paracelsus in the 16th century. The coinage may derive from sylva and nympha.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

sylph (plural sylphs)

  1. (mythology) An invisible being of the air
  2. The elemental being of air, usually female.
  3. A slender woman or girl, usually graceful and sometimes with the implication of sublime station over everyday people.
    • 1811, Mary Bruton, Self-Control (novel):
      Her heart fluttered with expectation—her step was buoyant with hope, and she sprung into the carriage with the lightness of a sylph.
  4. A mainly dark green and blue hummingbird, the male of which has a long forked tail.

Translations[edit]