Pupal vs. Pupil

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Pupal and pupil are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the difference between the definitions of pupal and pupil, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Pupal is the adjective form of pupa, which is a stage in insect development that occurs between the larva stage and the adult stage. A pupa is a chrysalis. During the pupal stage the insect is encased in a protective covering while many internal changes occur. The word pupa was coined by Linnæus in the mid-1700s, from the Latin word pupa which means puppet or doll.

The word pupil has two distinctly different meanings. First pupil may refer to a student, someone who is taught by another. Second, pupil may mean the dark opening in the middle of the iris of an eye that expands and contracts in order to allow in light. The word pupil to mean a student is derived from the Latin word pupillus which means little boy. The word pupil to mean the dark opening in the middle of the iris of an eye is derived from the Latin word pupilla, referencing the reflection of images in the eye of a doll.


To determine if trees or shrubs are or have been infested with ash/lilac borers check for the presence of brown papery pupal cases that protrude from the bark. (The Rhea Herald News)

A PE teacher admitted side-footing a misbehaving pupil up the backside – and said he was sorry but the kick had “worked”. (The Liverpool Echo)

The most common form of coloboma is the one affecting the iris – often giving the sufferer a pupil shaped like a keyhole. (The Sun)