noun, plural larvae [lahr-vee] .
Entomology. the immature, wingless, feeding stage of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis. See illus. under metamorphosis.
any animal in an analogous immature form.
the young of any invertebrate animal.
larvae, Roman Antiquity. malignant ghosts, as lemures.

1645–55; < Neo-Latin; special use of Latin larva a ghost, specter, mask, skeleton; akin to Lares

larva, lava. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
larva (ˈlɑːvə)
n , pl -vae
an immature free-living form of many animals that develops into a different adult form by metamorphosis
[C18: (C17 in the original Latin sense: ghost): New Latin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1650s, "a ghost, specter," from L. larva (pl. larvae), earlier larua "ghost," also "mask;" applied in biological sense 1768 by Linnaeus because immature forms of insects "mask" the adult forms. On the double sense of the Latin word, Carlo Ginzburg, among other students of mythology and folklore, has
commented on "the well-nigh universal association between masks and the spirits of the dead."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

larva lar·va (lär'və)
n. pl. lar·vas or lar·vae (-vē)

  1. The newly hatched, wingless, often wormlike form of many insects before metamorphosis.

  2. The newly hatched, earliest stage of any of various animals that undergo metamorphosis, differing markedly in form and appearance from the adult.

lar'val adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
larva  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (lär'və)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural larvae (lär'vē) or larvas
  1. An animal in an early stage of development that differs greatly in appearance from its adult stage. Larvae are adapted to a different environment and way of life from those of adults and go through a process of metamorphosis in changing to adults. Tadpoles are the larvae of frogs and toads.

  2. The immature, wingless, and usually wormlike feeding form of those insects that undergo three stages of metamorphosis, such as butterflies, moths, and beetles. Insect larvae hatch from eggs, later turn into pupae, and finally turn into adults. Compare imago, nymph, pupa.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The mature larva forms a pupa and transforms into the adult insect which is a
  gray to brown colored moth with a one inch wingspan.
The larva pierces the spider's tough skin and sucks its blood for sustenance.
The larva of this nasty little bug burrows into an olive and eats it from
When it finds suitable cues, this larva will settle to the bottom, and
  metamorphose into a polyp with a central mouth.
Images for larva
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