Learning a language’s grammatical concepts is arguably one of the most difficult things about learning any language. For example, for anyone who has ever learned a foreign language before, you know how difficult it is to memorize verb conjugations, different forms of pronouns, lists of noun rules, and various other grammar rules. And if you have ever learned more than one other language, it can be very easy to get them confused.
Welcome to English, a language that is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to master due to the complexity of its rules and the fact that it actually breaks its own rules more often than not. The exceptions often outnumber the rules, and it can be very hard to keep track of what is right and what is wrong, especially if you find yourself working with several different groups of people with their own colloquialisms or slangs. The English language lends itself to several common grammar mistakes that beginners and experienced English speakers alike make often.
In this article, let’s explore our word of the day, “chrysalis,” learn its proper use, how to create its plural forms, look for its synonyms, and learn its etymology and context.
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Often times, learning how to pronounce a word can be just as difficult as learning and memorizing all its grammatical rules and concepts. The pronunciation of the word chrysalis can, in particular, cause some stress because of how complicated it looks at first glance. The phonetic spelling is krɪsəlɪs. However, thankfully its pronunciation is actually rather simple. There are only three syllables in the word, and they are pronounced individually. The first syllable is pronounced Kri, the second is Suh, and the third is Liss. Put them all together, and you have got Kri-Suh-Liss or Chrysalis.
What Does Chrysalis Mean?
To first understand a word, its history, and how to use it properly, it is important to first define what it actually means. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of chrysalis is “the pupa of a butterfly,” “the hardened outer protective layer of a pupa,” or “a protecting covering.” It also applies to the pupa of a moth and other similar insects. In total, there are only four definitions recognized by the dictionary, but in short, the chrysalis is the hard case of protective covering that a caterpillar builds around itself when it is about to turn into a butterfly. Crisalide is an alternative form.
Part of what makes English such a difficult language to master is that no matter where you look, there are rules, and then there are exceptions to those rules. For example, the common rule for making the past tense in English is to add “-d” or “-ed” to a verb to give it the past tense. For example, the verb cook becomes cooked, and the verb bake becomes baked. In both situations, you either add the “-ed” or the “-d” suffix, and the word is past tense.
Many plurals follow a similar rule: to create a plural, add “-es” or just “s” to the current word. However, that is not the case with most forms of the plural of chrysalis. There are two commonly recognized forms, and while one does actually follow the common rule of adding “-es” to create “chrysalises,” the other form is more commonly used. The word “chrysalides” is the scientifically accepted plural of the word.
The only reason that the word “chrysalises” is considered correct in the dictionary is that it was used so often that it became added. Another example of language being driven by culture is the fact that the word “selfie” was added to several dictionaries only a few years ago because it was so commonly used in conversation.
The History and Origin of the Word
One of the best ways to understand a word is to learn where it came from. A word’s etymology can reveal a lot about the changes a word has gone through to get to where it is today in modern English. According to EtymOnline.com, the word chrysalis was first used in English in the early seventeenth century to describe the particular form in the life-cycle of butterflies and moths between larval and adult stages. The word came to English from the Latin chrӯsallis, from chrysós, which was translated “golden colored pupa of the butterfly.” It is also related to the Greek khrusallis, from khrusos, and the modern Greek form is chrysallis.
The current English form is very similar to other modern languages, including the Spanish crisálida. However, it differs quite strongly from the Indonesian kepompong.
It is actually very common to find words in English that have their original root in ancient languages such as Latin and Greek. Most nouns in modern English actually originate from Latin by way of other modern European languages such as Italian, Spanish, or French.
Examples of the Word in Context
Another great way to learn how to use a word is to explore the word being used correctly. Either reading the word in its proper context or hearing someone else use it in conversation. Here are some common example sentences with the word chrysalis in context:
Did you see the chrysalis outside? It’s starting to break and then the butterfly will come out!
How many chrysalides do we have in the experiment right now?
Mom! Come look! There are three chrysalises in the trees already, will there be more?
Synonyms for Chrysalis
Finally, to really solidify a word into your vocabulary, it is useful to explore words in the thesaurus with similar or same definitions. The more words you know that can fit into a specific context, the easier it will be to remember which ones to use. Here are some synonyms for the word chrysalis:
Cocoon: a chrysalis-type growth used by moths as opposed to butterflies in their pupal stage
Larva: a word that describes the stage that a butterfly is in as it builds itself a chrysalis
Pupa: a word that describes the stage of life that a butterfly is in as it lives inside a chrysalis. As an interesting side note, the plural of pupa is pupae.
Kevin Miller is a growth marketer with an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization, paid acquisition and email marketing. He is also an online editor and writer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google and became infatuated with English Grammar and for years has been diving into the language, demystifying the do's and don'ts for all who share the same passion! He can be found online here.